Justice Department Plans More Cuts to Opioid Manufacturing

August 16, 2018 Updated: August 17, 2018

WASHINGTON—The Justice Department, through the Drug Enforcement Administration, plans to reduce 2019 opioid manufacturing quotas for the six most frequently misused opioids by an average of 10 percent from 2018 levels.

The six targeted opioids are fentanyl, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, morphine, oxycodone, and oxymorphone.

The opioid manufacturing quota was heavily reduced in 2017, with four of the six target opioids reduced by 40 percent or more. The other two were each reduced by 27 percent.

The Justice Department’s 2019 plan lines up with President Donald Trump’s “Safe Prescribing Plan” that seeks to “cut nationwide opioid prescription fills by one-third within three years.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement on Aug. 16 that the opioid cuts will “make it harder to divert these drugs for abuse.”

In 2017, more than 71,500 Americans died from drug overdoses, according to provisional numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Aug. 15.

The majority of opioid addicts start their addiction through prescription pills—their own or those belonging to a friend or family member. Once hooked and the prescriptions run out, the addict turns to street pills or the cheaper options of heroin and fentanyl.

Most of the illicit fentanyl is manufactured in China and most illicit opioids enter the United States through Mexico or via the postal service.

During a cabinet meeting on Aug. 16, Trump asked Sessions to look into the opioids coming in from China and Mexico.

“In China, you have some pretty big companies sending that garbage and killing our people. It’s almost a form of warfare,” Trump said.

Sessions said the department is currently returning indictments against distributors from China.

“We’ve identified certain companies that are moving drugs from China, fentanyl in particular,” he said.

Sessions also agreed to look into bringing federal lawsuits against drug companies that supply opioids, rather than just joining state lawsuits.

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