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Morrisey Claims USDA Suit Changing Opioid Epidemic

September 23rd, 2019 by WCBC Radio

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says his unilateral lawsuit against the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is helping affect real change in the opioid epidemic, as can be seen by significant cuts in the number of pills that DEA will allow to be manufactured next year.
The proposed limits slash hydrocodone manufacturing by 19 percent and oxycodone by 8.8 percent in one year. Attorney General Morrisey resolved his litigation with DEA over the quota system last year.
“It’s exciting to see real progress in the battle against opioid abuse,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “The numbers are in, opioid manufacturing, prescribing and dispensing rates are down, but we aren’t done yet. Now is the time to fight more vigorously than ever so we can build on our success.”
The DEA, as a direct result of the Attorney General’s lawsuit, finalized a new quota rule in July 2018 that embraced the Attorney General’s call for greater input and consideration of illegal diversion in determining how many opioid pills can be manufactured each year.
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 Attorney General has pursued change to the DEA quota system for years. That includes multiple attempts seeking information from the agency since 2015, followed by the lawsuit in 2017.
During that time span and including the 2020 proposal, DEA’s aggregate production quota for hydrocodone has been slashed by 65 percent, from 99.6 million grams in 2015 to 34.8 million grams in 2020.
Similarly, the production quota for oxycodone for 2020 is 72.6 million grams, down from 141.4 million grams in 2015 — a 48.7 percent decrease.
Prescribing and dispensing rates of opioid painkillers have also begun to decrease, with a preliminary estimate of 32 million doses of hydrocodone being dispensed in West Virginia in 2019, down from the 99 million doses of hydrocodone dispensed in 2011.
The Attorney General also previously developed a best practices toolkit for prescribing and dispensing opioids, which has been endorsed by more than 25 national and state stakeholders.
Combined, all of these efforts have helped West Virginia realize a 51-percent drop in the opioid prescriptions since 2013, according to an IQVIA-study, released in May and analyzed in June by Axios.


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