U.S. Senators Request That DEA Reduce Prescription Opioid Supply Again In 2018
A letter from sixteen Democratic U.S. senators has been sent to the Drug Enforcement Administration is requesting that in 2018, the agency enact additional cuts in the supply of prescription opioid painkillers, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone.
The letter was composed by Dick Durbin (D-IL) and included fifteen other signatures from the following senators:
Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) Richard Blumenthal (D-CN) Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Angus King (D-ME) Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) , Joe Manchin (D-WV), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).
The DEA regulates the quantity of controlled substances that can be made each year, and 2017, cut the quota for prescription opioids by at least 25% (hydrocodone was reduced by 34%) after the receipt of a similar request last year.
In the letter to Chuck Rosenberg, the senators commended the DEA on last year’s action that resulted in a reduced opioid production quota “for the first time in a generation.”
“However, the 2017 production quota levels for numerous schedule II opioids remain dramatically higher than they were a decade ago.”
The letter then asked for further reductions, stating the action was “necessary to rein in this epidemic.”
The senators went on to say that from 1993-2015, the DEA permitted oxycodone quotas to increase 39-fold, as well as hydromorphone to increase 23-fold, and hydrocodone to increase 12-fold.
Of note, although opioid production quotas have been on the rise, prescriptions for painkillers have been dropping off in the last few years.
The CDC announced last week that opioid prescribing in the United States has fallen by 18% since 2010.
Sen. Angus King, in a statement:
“Pharmaceutical companies have irresponsibly flooded states with millions and millions of opioids pills – enough, in fact, for every adult in America to have their own bottle.”
He went on to say that by reducing the “overabundance” of prescription opioids, that the DEA could “help directly stem the tide of addiction while still also ensuring that those who suffer from chronic pain have the medication they need.”
Despite the fact that the street is presumably inundated with opioids, patients have been complaining of shortages, and that those with a legitimate medical need have been forced to wait for prescription refills. Is drug diversion to blame?
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology