DEA plan to stem supply of prescription drugs

DEA plan to stem supply of prescription drugs draws skepticism April 2018 – By Lev Facher @levfacher

Here is another article in support of yesterday’s post: DEA Draws Firestorm of Criticism for New Quotas

With pressure building on the the Drug Enforcement Administration to stem the supply of prescription drugs, a new proposal aims to empower the agency to more aggressively limit manufacturing levels and to put hundreds of drug makers on notice. It’s not yet clear whether the proposal will achieve either goal.

This is a policy that’s completely out of step with reality – overdoses moved on from prescription opioids to illicit opioids (often laced with fentanyl). 

According to a rule introduced last week, the DEA would be able to tighten overall quotas and individual quotas issued to manufacturers if it suspects supplies are being diverted for misuse — particularly in cases of “pill dumping.”

But Capitol Hill aides and multiple former federal drug policy officials said the rule’s effectiveness would depend on how often the DEA chose to enforce it. Others expressed skepticism that the rule would lead to crackdowns on individual drug manufacturers.

“This doesn’t get us anywhere, because in the end you’re opening the door for a lot of challenges to your quota process,” said Joe Rannazzisi, the former head of the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control.

For decades, the DEA has regulated the volume of controlled substances that are produced in the United States — mainly to ensure drug makers produce enough medicines to avoid shortages. Quota allotments were determined almost entirely by projections for prescription drug sales.

But in the midst of the national opioid epidemic, the DEA has faced pressure from some Democratic lawmakers and others to use the system to help stem supply.

The shift is an about-face for the DEA, which told STAT in December that any change to the quota-setting process would have to be enacted by Congress.

Experts say it could be difficult for the DEA to adjust individual quotas based on evidence of drug diversion.

While states often have evidence about oversupply in certain communities or even from specific pharmacies, Rannazzisi said it would be difficult to pinpoint individual manufacturers responsible at the top of the supply chain.

Attempting to do so, Rannazzisi said, could result in shortages, even for patients with legitimate medical need.

The DEA did not respond to a request for comment on Monday, including a request for the list of 325 manufacturers the agency said would be impacted by the new rule.

It almost seems like the DEA has “gone rogue”, still using techniques that have already been proven ineffective and resisting all evidence and logic.

This agency insists, against mounting evidence to the contrary, that limiting the supply of opioid medications for chronic pain patients will magically result in fewer people injecting themselves with illicit fentanyl and overdosing.

This is a fantasy, a myth used by politicians to insert themselves into our healthcare as though they “know better” than the doctors that treat us not as statistics, but as individuals.

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