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DEA’s New Rule Could Make It Harder For Opioids To Reach The Black Market

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Ethan Barton Editor in Chief
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The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) proposed changing how the agency determines the number of pharmaceuticals allowed on the market, which would help prevent opioids from flooding communities, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced Tuesday.

The changes would require the DEA to consider the number of controlled substances that enter the black market when setting drug quotas and to seek input from states and the Department of Health and Human Services. They also would require the DEA to hold hearings if states identify an excessive number of agency-regulated drugs entering communities.

“We must end senseless death in West Virginia,” Morrisey said in a statement. “The reform sought by DEA proves the impact of our lawsuit is still reverberating in Washington and producing real results capable of ending the oversupply of deadly and addictive painkillers that has killed far too many.”

The DEA limits the number of controlled substances, such as opioids, that can be on the market through a quota system. The agency currently bases its quotas off pharmaceutical companies’ sales estimates.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered the DEA to review the drug quota process in March 1 as result of a lawsuit Morrisey filed against the DEA. Morrisey, a Republican, asked the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to hold the case following Sessions’ directive.

The DEA’s proposed changes are open to public comment for 15 days.

Morrisey sued the DEA in December 2017 to compel the agency to change the way it sets drug quotas.

West Virginia is among the states the opioid epidemic has hit hardest. Two communities in the Mountain State with populations of less than 3,000 received nearly 21 million opioid pills, for example.

Additionally, 80 percent of heroin users began their heroin addiction with painkillers, according to a recent study. More than 200,000 people nationwide have died from prescription opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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