On the home page of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s website, the government agency known simply as the “DEA” has published its mission statement as follows:
“To enforce the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States and bring to the criminal and civil justice system of the United States, or any other competent jurisdiction, those organizations and principal members of organizations, involved in the growing, manufacture, or distribution of controlled substances appearing in or destined for illicit traffic in the United States.”
In recent months, the DEA has put a great deal of time and effort into battling the opioid epidemic that’s affected virtually every town, suburb, and metropolis in the United States. On October 23, the DEA announced proposed regulations to improve its ability to oversee the production of the drugs at the root of the pill crisis—legislation to further limit excess quantities of medications that are often misused, abused, and prone to illicit distribution.
However, a recent report indicates that for many years the DEA did nothing to stop the over-production of dangerous painkillers and even authorized pharmaceutical companies to produce a record number of highly addictive narcotic pain-relieving pills as the demand for the drugs reached an all-time high all over the country.
Report Details DEA Action
You may be surprised to learn that in the midst of the opioid epidemic, which continues to this day, the DEA actually allowed opioid manufacturers to produce more and more pills to meet the very high demand for the pain-killing drugs even as deaths from the crisis spiked, according to the United States Justice Department’s inspector general.
Made available in September, a 77-page report entitled “Review of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Regulatory and Enforcement Efforts to Control The Diversion of Opioids” details the actions of the DEA over the past several years and notes its continued authorization to produce more pain pills during the time overdoses and deaths from oxycodone have skyrocketed.
The report indicates that while more and more people were becoming addicted to and overdosing after using opioids in a ten-year period in the early 2000’s, the DEA, was authorizing manufacturers to produce more and more of the dangerous, highly addictive drugs.
According to the report, “The rate of opioid overdose deaths in the
United States grew, on average, by 8 percent per year from 1999 through 2013, and by 71 percent per year from 2013 to 2017.” However, from 2003 to 2013, the DEA authorized big pharma to produce “substantially larger amount of opioids.” Between 2002 and 2013, one production quota report shows an increase in opioid production in this country as high as 400%, and it was not until 2017 that the DEA “significantly reduced the production of oxycodone by 25 percent.” Then, in 2018, the DEA reduced production of oxycodone by another 6%.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioid overdose deaths continue to rise in the United States. From 1999 to 2017, over 700,000 people died from a drug overdose, and that was the period of time that the DEA was authorizing pharmaceutical companies to increase production. A staggering 68% of the approximately 70,000 drug overdose deaths in 2017 involved an opioid, and in 2017, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioids and illegal opioids like heroin and fentanyl) was six times higher than in 1999). At the time of this writing, it’s estimated that about 130 people die of an opioid overdose every day in the United States.