CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey led a multistate coalition in urging the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to better track illicit use of prescription opioids as the agency sets its drug quotas for next year.
The four-state coalition took issue with the DEA’s quota for 2021 in comments filed recently. Its members identified several ways DEA can improve its quota-setting policies and further reduce the over manufacturing of dangerous prescription opioids.
“Opioid abuse has cost far too many West Virginians their lives,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “This rampant drug abuse has been fueled by an agency that was asleep at the switch and allowed our state to be flooded with dangerous pills until President Trump and our office took action. We appreciate the efforts DEA is making to reduce supply, but there is still more that can be done to limit the availability of painkillers to those who would abuse them.”
The coalition’s work builds upon Attorney General Morrisey’s groundbreaking lawsuit in 2017 to institute reforms to the DEA’s national drug quota system – the system that cost many Americans their lives.
The states identify additional areas where DEA could improve its control of manufacturing quotas for the highly-addictive medications as it sets limits for 2021. Among those are more consideration of state data when setting quotas, working with individual states to develop information that is more useful in calculating quotas and adopting methods that can forecast demand for prescription drugs.
Opioid quotas have been trending downward since DEA adopted reforms triggered by West Virginia's lawsuit in 2017, however, the Attorney General has long pushed for — and continues to seek — greater reductions.
The proposed 2021 quotas slash the production of hydrocodone by 9 percent and reduce oxycodone production by 13 percent.
The reforms embraced the Attorney General’s call for greater input and consideration of diversion in determining how many opioid pills can be manufactured each year.
The DEA previously relied on the amount of pills pharmaceutical manufacturers expected to sell within a year. The broken approach did not account for the number of pills diverted for abuse.
West Virginia filed its comments along with the attorneys general of Arkansas, Kentucky and South Dakota.
Read a copy of the filing at https://bit.ly/3cRSlib.