CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced Thursday his office is suing Drug Enforcement Administration, adding he has requested the lawsuit be put on hold following a directive from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Morrisey unilaterally filed a “petition for review” on Dec. 8 because of the agency’s drug quota system — which was finalized on Nov. 8 — claiming the government was not doing enough to prevent drug manufacturers and distributors from providing the public with an excess of opioids.
West Virginia leads the nation in fatal drug overdoses with 52 deaths per 100,000 people in 2016, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Morrisey called the drug quota system “dangerously flawed” during a press conference, saying the DEA allows companies to sell as many drugs as they see fit rather than serving patient needs, which fueled the national opioid crisis.
“When the government allows the industry to manufacture and distribute too many opioids, it creates absolutely unacceptable opportunities for criminal, reckless and negligent conduct,” he said.
Morrisey filed the lawsuit petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Sessions signed a memorandum to acting DEA Administrator Robert Patterson to evaluate the agency’s production quota for Schedule I and II substances, including opioids.
Morrisey said because of Sessions’ action, he filed a motion to put the case on hold pending future action by the DEA. He added he hoped the case would be dismissed in the future once reforms are made.
“I’m hopeful that the DEA will improve its regulations by also distinguishing between prescribed doses and consumed doses,” Morrisey said. “This will help eliminate the dangerous excess quantities of pills that end up in medicine cabinets, where they’re often diverted to illicit use for young people.”
Morrisey also said he wants the DEA will rely on state and public input going forward to determine quota limit.