Lawsuit spurs national reform

Staff Report

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey sued the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and his unilateral action is now locked in sweeping reform to national drug policy.

The DEA, as a direct result of the lawsuit, sent a finalized rule to the Federal Register that embraces the attorney general’s call for greater input and consideration of illegal diversion in DEA’s determination of how many opioid pills can be manufactured each year.

“We must do everything to reduce the oversupply of opioid painkillers,” said Morrisey, “the reforms accomplished through this rule and our lawsuit are the first steps toward changing a fundamentally flawed system that for too long placed industry wants over the legitimate medical need and contributed to increased crime, higher medical costs, strained emergency services, greater reliance on foster care and far too many senseless deaths.”

The finalized rule takes steps to account for diversion, increases input from specific stakeholders and establishes hearings when states request DEA consider additional evidence of excess opioid supplies. All of these suggestions were set forth by Morrisey.

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.

The finalized rule, which came out on last Wednesday, was less than four months after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered DEA to review its policy, a directive issued itself just hours before a key deadline in Morrisey’s lawsuit.

Staff Report