CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday the Drug Enforcement Administration has proposed new rules that would place limits on the manufacturing of opioids.
The rule would require the DEA to take into consideration the extent of drug diversion when annual production limits are set, which according to a Department of Justice press release would encourage action by drug manufacturers in addition to helping the DEA respond to changing conditions.
Drug companies would have to work with federal and state offices to come up with a number of pills to be produced.
“It’s a common-sense idea: the more a drug is diverted, the more its production should be limited. Today’s proposed rule will give DEA more information to help the agency protect law-abiding Americans from the threat of drugs — and that makes all of us safer,” Sessions said in prepared remarks during an appearance in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The proposal comes after West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed a lawsuit against the DEA for its drug quota system, which Morrisey said allowed drug companies to sell as many pills as they expected rather than serve the needs of patients.
“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,” he said in a statement.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., released a statement Wednesday supporting the announcement.
“Since 2016, I have consistently pressured the DEA to fix the quota system and I applaud Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ proposal,” he said. “I have also pushed the DEA and the DOJ to increase their enforcement efforts against those bad actors who are poisoning our communities. The DEA and DOJ are our first line of defense against the opioid epidemic and I will continue to work with them to reinstate the authority the DEA needs to enforce existing laws in order to keep opioids out of the hands of people who will unlawfully sell them or abuse them.”
Leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee — which launched an investigation regarding pill shipments into West Virginia in May — also came out in favor of the proposed change.
“The data sharing outlined today is also an important step in the fight to combat the opioid crisis, as we have seen through our own use of ARCOS data during our year-long, bipartisan investigation. We look forward to working with DEA as these actions are finalized,” said Committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Gregg Harper, R-Miss.
The announcement happened the same day as federal, state and local officials conducted raids in Huntington and Detroit pertaining to the trafficking of heroin and fentanyl.