Analysis & Comment

Opinion | D.E.A. Needs to Stop Big Pharma

To the Editor:

Re “Prosecutors Fighting the Opioid Crisis Aim at the Heart of the Network” (news article, April 24):

The arrest by the Drug Enforcement Administration of two executives of the Rochester Drug Cooperative for shipping millions of oxycodone pills — in excess of legitimate medical supply — and cashing in personally was the right move.

But the article didn’t mention a critical fact. The authorization to manufacture 13 billion opioid doses each year (enough for a three-week dose for every adult in America) is given by the very same D.E.A.

If the Justice Department really wants to do everything in its power to stop this opioid epidemic, it should stop the D.E.A. approval of Big Pharma’s overproduction of billions of these pills every year.

Last year, I sponsored bipartisan legislation giving the D.E.A. expanded powers to set more sensible production levels. The president signed it into law. It’s time that D.E.A. uses this new authority.

You quote Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney in Manhattan, as asking, “Why did they do it? Greed.”

But why does the D.E.A. approve it?

Ask the president.

Dick Durbin
The writer, a Democrat, represents Illinois in the Senate.

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