DEA Heeds Brown’s Call to Cut Opioid Production to Help Fight Opioid Epidemic

Senator Asked the Agency to Take this Step

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) applauded a proposal issued today by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to reduce the production of prescription opioids by 20 percent next year. The DEA is responsible for establishing annual quotas determining the exact amount of each opioid drug that is permitted to be produced in the U.S. each year. Brown asked the agency to take this step.

“We all have a role to play in combatting the opioid epidemic and this step shows DEA is committed to playing its part in our efforts,” said Brown. “Of course there is still more for us to do – from investing in communities on the frontlines of the epidemic to stopping illegal shipments of drugs at our borders.”

Yesterday, Brown and several of his Senate colleagues met with Chuck Rosenberg, Acting Administrator at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and urged him to reduce the amount of opioid pills allowed to be manufactured and sold in the United States in 2018. 

In July, Brown joined a group of sixteen senators in urging the DEA to better prevent painkillers from flooding the market by setting lower opioid production quotas for 2018.  The senators also pressed the agency to improve transparency in its quota-setting process by providing an explanation of how it reaches a determination and publishing quotas granted to individual manufacturers of opioids. Today, the DEA announced a proposal to cut the amount of prescription opioids manufactured in the U.S. by 20 percent. Brown’s efforts in 2016 were also effective, resulting in a 25 percent cut for 2017.

Just this week, Brown applauded several recommendations from the Administration’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. Several of the Commission’s recommendations are proposals Brown has worked on, including:

  • Eliminating an outdated cap on the number of beds at substance abuse treatment facilities that can be covered under Medicaid. Current law limits use of Medicaid funding for residential mental health or substance abuse treatment to facilities with just 16 beds or less, which prevents many Ohioans from getting the help they need. Brown has legislation with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) to lift the cap so Ohioans can get care. The Commission’s report notes this is one of the quickest ways to get people into treatment.
  • Increasing access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Brown has worked on legislation to expand use of MAT, which was included in the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act (CARA), which Brown supported. He has also cosponsored The Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment Act (TREAT Act) to further expand access to this effective form of treatment.
  • Increasing access to naloxone. Brown has called on the government to boost funding to help first responders maintain a supply of naloxone and supported CARA, which authorized funding for overdose reversal drugs.
  • Developing better fentanyl detection devices for local, state and federal law enforcement, and supporting legislation Brown is supporting to stop the flow of synthetic opioids through the U.S. Postal Service. Brown teamed up with Senator Portman on a pair of bills to help block the flow of fentanyl to Ohio communities, the INTERDICT and STOP Acts. The STOP Act, which Brown is cosponsoring, would help USPS detect these drugs. Brown’s INTERDICT ACT provides Customs and Border agents with additional resources to screen for fentanyl safely and effectively.

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