DEA Quotas Cause Opioid Shortage in Hospitals

Kalter: Boston hospitals in short supply of opioids | Boston Herald – Lindsay Kalter Monday, March 12, 2018

While authorities struggle to get opioids off the streets, there is a shortage of pain medications locally and nationwide in the places that need them the most: hospitals.

“We started seeing an impact on supply back in June, but it’s progressively gotten tighter,” said Christopher Fortier, chief pharmacy officer at Massachusetts General Hospital.

This is absurd. Why is the DEA setting quotas for essential medical supplies?  

Shouldn’t that be a medical judgment, not a law enforcement clamp-down on the supply of legitimate essential medications.

“We’re at a critical point across the country with this.”

Pharmacists at Boston health facilities — including MGH, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Tufts Medical Center — are scrambling to find alternatives to the injectable forms of three common opiates:

  • fentanyl,
  • morphine and
  • hydro­morphine, also known as Dilaudid.

The dwindling supply seems to be a product of more stringent regulations from the Drug Enforcement Agency aimed at curbing the opioid epidemic.

It seems more clear by the day that the DEA is crossing boundaries between curbing illegal drug use, which they have domain over, and rationing essential medication, which they should have no say in.

But the upshot, Fortier said, is that manufacturers such as Pfizer cannot produce the amount needed to properly treat patients long-term.

The DEA, which is a law enforcement agency. has become incredibly powerful. Over the last years, it has inserted itself into more and more into healthcare, by cozying up to the CDC, and even determining patient’s medication doses.

“The issue right now is what we call the aggregate production quota,” Fortier said. “The DEA has not allowed them to increase their production of these products.

But in the meantime, hospitals everywhere are looking for alternative ways to treat patients — using oral medications when possible, along with other forms of pain management — but there is no end in sight.

Here is another article about the opioid shortage:

Hospitals confront a new opioid crisis: an alarming shortage of pain meds – By Casey Ross @caseymross – March 15, 2018

 – Amid a nationwide crisis caused by too-easy access to medical painkillers, hospitals are now struggling to find enough of that same class of drugs to keep their patients’ pain controlled.

That would be a disaster for someone suffering from acute pain, like a burn over 80% of their body, and then not being able to access opioids.

That is the reality now facing Brigham and Women’s and other medical providers across the country. Production of injectable opioids has nearly ground to a halt due to manufacturing problems, creating a shortage of staple medications used to treat a wide array of patients. Alarms1 are now ringing at all kinds of medical providers, from sprawling academic hospitals to small hospice programs, and many are launching efforts to conserve injectable opioids and institute safeguards to prevent dosing errors that can result from rapid changes in medication regimens.

These products, packaged in vials, patches, and syringes, are distinct from the prescription pills at the root of the nation’s opioid addiction crisis

No, actually they are *NOT* as documented in

They are distributed to hospitals and other medical providers that use them to treat patients undergoing major surgeries or those who are suffering from intense pain related to trauma or cancer.

The severity of the shortage, which has been brewing since last summer, only became clear in recent weeks after Pfizer Inc., the dominant manufacturer of injectable opioids, began notifying customers that it has halted production of some medicines and will not be able to fully restore its capacity until the first quarter of 2019.

Strictures of DEA

Although the shortage was not directly caused by the opioid addiction crisis, the response to it is being impaired by some of the legal controls surrounding these drugs.

In order to increase the supply of injectable opioids, the Drug Enforcement Administration, which regulates the distribution of controlled substances, must lift quotas on smaller manufacturers to allow them to make more.

But the president’s goal over the next year is to reduce the use of opioids by another third.

But despite requests from these manufacturers and a wide array of hospital and patient groups, the DEA has not yet granted enough extra capacity to resolve the shortage.

These people are sadists.

I can’t help but wish they’d have a painful accident and be offered only NSAIDs or massage or music therapy and Reiki, Then they would understand for once and for all that all those “alternative” treatments are only effective for minor pain.

A spokeswoman for the DEA said the agency is working on the problem as quickly as it can.  

I have no idea what “as quickly as it can” means to a government agency that still stuck in the 80’s and “Just say No” and is now looking through PDMP (Prescription Data Monitoring Plans) data to find all doctors who prescribe “more than average”. It makes no difference if they run a pain clinic or a dermatology practice.

“We are communicating with those affected and are considering all possible solutions, including the adjustment of production quota,” said the spokeswoman, Katherine Pfaff. “DEA is confident these steps will avoid any shortages.”

Yet how quickly they work on the “opioid problem” by going after the supply of even legitimate opioids

it is unclear how quickly the DEA will act and whether smaller manufacturers of injectable opioids can ramp up production fast enough to alleviate the shortage.

No back-up plan

This article is no longer accessible, so I have no excerpts after this heading, but I think we get the picture.


3 thoughts on “DEA Quotas Cause Opioid Shortage in Hospitals

  1. dr boris

    I refuse to have a much needed surgery under this kind of threat to my recovery and well being. I’m in constant severe pain day after day due to meds being cut off that had helped me for 12 years, I feel demeaned and demoralized enough because of conditions I have that weren’t my fault, why on earth should I subject myself to more!! AMA its time for you to WAKE UP. People need to hold off on All elective surgeries, hit them in their damn wallets.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: DEA Draws Firestorm of Criticism for New Quotas | EDS and Chronic Pain News & Info

  3. Pingback: ATIP Offers Opioid Prescribing Recommendations | EDS and Chronic Pain News & Info

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