Senator Markey Joins Legislation Repealing 2016 Law After Reports It Prevented Aggressive DEA Enforcement of Opioid Distributors

Also queries HHS and DEA on the impact of the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act

Washington (October 23, 2017) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) announced his co-sponsorship of Senator Claire McCaskill’s (D-Mo.) legislation repealing the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016 after reports‎ from The Washington Post and 60 Minutes indicated that it had dramatically restricted the ability of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to crack down on opioid distributors suspected of wrongdoing.
 
“Wholesale opioid distributors have the capacity to put massive numbers of addictive painkillers in the hands of bad actors, and we need to make sure they are held to account,” said Senator Markey. “We need the DEA to have the tools and authority it needs to fully investigate violations and disrupt the flow of illicit opioid pharmaceuticals into our communities.”
 
The 2016 bill purported to “improve enforcement efforts related to prescription drug diversion and abuse” by altering DEA procedures for revoking or suspending registrations for opioid distributors under the Controlled Substances Act. However, the effect of these changes‎, according to media reports, has been to significantly curtail the ability of DEA to bring enforcement actions against drug distributors.
 
Additionally, ‎Senator Markey joined Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) in leading a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the DEA requesting information on the impact of the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act. Current law requires the DEA Administrator to submit a report to Congress identifying any residual issues with diversion efforts, including information on whether coordination between the industry and law enforcement has helped with diversion. This report is past-due, and the Senators want HHS and the DEA to provide the information so they can determine the best action to take to ensure the DEA has the tools it needs to fight the opioid epidemic.
 
“In light of these reports and as Congress evaluates this law taking into account the nation’s addiction epidemic, it is critical that we have all the information necessary to ensure the federal government is doing everything it can to help support our states and local communities in our collective fight against this epidemic,” write the Senators in their letter. “We want to ensure the Drug Enforcement Administration and other related agencies have all of the tools necessary to fight this epidemic.”
 
A copy of the letter can be found HERE.
 
The letter is was also signed by Senators Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn..), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) Chris A. Coons (D-Del.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Angus King (I-Maine), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Gary C. Peters (D-Mich.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.).
 


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