Earlier this year, Klobuchar and other senators sent a letter urging Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Acting Administrator Rosenberg to use the agency’s quota-setting authority to limit the quantity of opioid pills on the market; The DEA announced this week that it has decided to reduce next year’s production quotas by 25 percent for nearly all Schedule II drugs, including prescription opioids
This week’s announcement represents the largest decrease in opioid production quotas in two decades
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, along with Senators Dick Durbin (I-IL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Edward Markey (D-MA), Angus King (I-ME), and Joe Manchin (D-WV), today commended the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) decision to lower opioid quotas. Earlier this year, Klobuchar and the other senators sent a letter urging DEA Acting Administrator Rosenberg to use the agency’s quota-setting authority to limit the quantity of opioid pills on the market. The DEA announced this week that it has decided to reduce next year’s production quotas by 25 percent for nearly all Schedule II drugs, including prescription opioids. Three powerful, addictive painkillers will see the most significant reductions from what is allowed on the market this year: hydrocodone (34% reduction), oxymorphone (45% reduction), and hydromorphone (38% reduction).
“The size and scope of the U.S. opioid epidemic requires immediate, sweeping action from federal and local governments, health care professionals, and drug companies,” said the senators. “We commend the DEA for using its authority to significantly reduce the quantity of addictive painkillers that are flooding the market. This action will help prevent individuals from becoming addicted in the first place. We must now continue to use all the tools at our disposal to enhance federal oversight of prescription opioids, improve prescribing practices, and address barriers to addiction treatment. Failure to act will result in more heroin and opioid overdose deaths and more Americans becoming addicted.”
With its existing quota-setting authority, the DEA effectively serves as a gatekeeper for how many opioids can be produced and sold in the United States every year. Over the past two decades, the DEA had approved ever-greater increases in opioid quotas, allowing production of oxycodone to increase 39-fold, hydrocodone to increase 12-fold, hydromorphone to increase 23-fold, and fentanyl to increase 25-fold. This week’s announcement represents the largest decrease in opioid production quotas in two decades.
The senators also welcomed the DEA’s announcement that it had considered the impact of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) “Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain” on doctors’ prescribing practices in determining the quantities of prescription opioids required to meet legitimate medical and scientific need.
Klobuchar has long led local and national efforts to curb drug abuse and help people overcome addiction. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which Klobuchar introduced with a bipartisan group of senators, was signed into law by the President in July. The legislation would encourage states and local communities to pursue a full array of proven strategies in the fight against addiction. To build on the monumental first step of CARA, she also introduced the Prescription Drug Monitoring Act, which would require the use of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP) in all states that receive certain federal funding to combat opioid abuse and also requires states to make their PDMP data available to other states. In May, Klobuchar and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced the Budgeting for Opioid Addiction Treatment Act (LifeBOAT), which would establish a permanent funding stream to provide and expand access to substance abuse treatment. In September 2014, the DEA implemented Klobuchar’s bipartisan Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act. Under the legislation, consumers are provided with more safe and responsible ways to dispose of unused prescription medications and controlled substances. As Hennepin County Attorney, drug cases accounted for one-third of her office’s total caseload.