The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has announced that it will reduce its 2017 quota for the production of opioid painkillers by 25%. The DEA said that it was cutting the supply of prescription painkillers in the U.S. in response to the epidemic of opioid abuse, addiction, and overdoses that have plagued the country over the last two decades.
The DEA sets annual quotas to regulate the amount of certain controlled substances in the U.S. The 25% reduction for 2017 is the first time the DEA has lowered its opioid quota after years of increasing the supply of prescription painkillers available in the U.S. Health experts say that the 25% reduction is the largest ever cut in the U.S. opioid supply allowed by the DEA.
As a result of lowering its 2017 quota for opioids production, the DEA says that the amount of many commonly prescribed painkillers available in the U.S. will decline significantly, including drugs such as fentanyl, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, morphine, and oxycodone.
Cases of addiction and abuse linked to prescription opioid painkillers have risen sharply in the U.S. since the early 1990s. According to data for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription opioid painkillers were responsible for about 14,000 overdose deaths in 2014.
The DEA’s decision to lower its opioid quota for 2017 came in response to a letter published by six U.S. senators expressing their concern over the opioid supply in the country. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Edward Markey, and four colleagues wrote that they were “deeply troubled by the sheer volume of opioids available – volumes that are approved by DEA.”
Although the DEA’s 2017 cut in the U.S. opioid quota has been welcomed by many health advocates, others have questioned the effect that the supply reduction with have after years of quota increases by the agency. Because the DEA says that it has included a 25% buffer in its opioid quota to allow for additional production in the event of a medication shortage, some health experts have also questioned whether the lower 2017 quota for prescription painkillers will actually have any effect on reducing the amounts of these medications that are available to patients.
The epidemic of opioid painkiller overdoses has been a leading contributor to the rise in prescription drug deaths in the U.S. over the last two decades. As sales of opioid medications has climbed, so too have the number of overdose deaths caused by these medications. The CDC has reported that since 2000, the number of fatal overdoses due to prescription painkillers has doubled in the U.S.
When a loved one suffers an overdose caused by prescription painkillers, the manufacturer of the drug – or the doctor or hospital who prescribed them – may be at fault. Some doctors prescribe opioid painkillers at excessive doses, or with other drugs that can cause potentially fatal drug interactions, putting the health – and even the lives – of patients at risk. The aggressive marketing of prescription painkillers by the pharmaceutical industry has also played a role in the rise of fatal opioid overdoses in the U.S.
The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have represented numerous clients who have been the victims of overdose or other complications caused by excessive painkiller prescriptions by doctors or hospitals. In fact, the attorneys at our law firm have handled more cases involving the fentanyl pain patch—a powerful opioid painkiller about 100 times more potent than morphine—than all other law firms in the country combined. Our firm has also filed numerous lawsuits on behalf of opioid victims and their families against opioid manufacturers and medical staff who inappropriately prescribe these drugs.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of complications from an opioid overdose, the doctor or hospital who prescribed these drugs or the drug company that manufactured them may be to blame. For more information about opioid painkiller lawsuits and to find out if you are eligible to file a case, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by completing our free case evaluation form located on the top of this page.