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Tag: opioids

DEA to Open New Office to Combat Prescription Painkiller Abuse

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA is opening if first new field office in nearly 20 years in an effort to combat prescription-opioid abuse.

The DEA’s 22nd office will be based in Louisville, Kentucky, where prescription painkillers have been especially problematic, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Wednesday.

USA Today reports that at least 90 federal drug agents will be redeployed to the Louisville office to open a new front on the battle against prescription painkiller abuse. 

“I know that this crisis is daunting,” Sessions said, referring to government estimates that 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses last year. “But we can, and we will turn the tide.”

Congressional Committee Threatens DEA with Subpoena Over ‘Pill Dumping’

pillsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Growing impatient with the DEA dragging its feet on the opioid epidemic, members of the Energy and Commerce Committee are threatening to subpoena the agency for information on “pill dumping” in West Virginia.

Chairman of the committee, Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., blasted the DEA for its failure to fully respond to a May 8 request for data on drug suppliers sending millions of opioids into the state, the Hill reports

“Enough is enough. Will you, on behalf of the DEA, commit today to producing the documents and information we requested, and soon? Or do we simply need to issue a subpoena? Because we are done waiting,” Walden said to DEA Deputy Assistant Administrator Neil Doherty at a hearing. 

West Virginia has been at the center of the opioid crisis, leading the nation in drug overdose deaths.

Drug suppliers pumped 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills into the state in six years, according to an investigation by the Charleston Gazette-Mail. 

Joe Rannazzisi, the Former DEA Official and Whistleblower Who Fought the Abusive Drug Firms

Joe Rannazzisi  on "60 Minutes"

Joe Rannazzisi on “60 Minutes”

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Joe Rannazzisi isn’t a household name, but he’s certainly getting well known, particularly after his appearance on Sunday on CBS’ s “60 Minutes,” where he was referred to as a whistleblower who tried cracking down on drug companies.

Scott Highham and Lenny Bernstein of the Washington Post write:

Joe Rannazzisi  is a man of strong passions who admits that he has a temper. For more than a decade, he was the frontman in the government’s war against opioid abuse. As head of the Office of Diversion Control for the Drug Enforcement Administration, he was responsible for cracking down on doctors, pharmacies, drug manufacturers and distributors who did not follow the nation’s prescription drug laws.

He said he worked hard to uphold the law, until he was pushed out by members of Congress and an industry campaign that he says has resulted in a weakening of the nation’s drug laws at a time of unprecedented crisis.

The burly, tough-talking Long Islander is now a man in the news, appearing in The Washington Post and on “60 Minutes” this Sunday to give his views on how the DEA’s war on opioids got derailed by pressure from Congress and the drug industry.

To read the whole story click here. 

DEA Agents Wearing Protective Gear to Avoid Fentanyl Exposure

About 30,000 pills laced with fentanyl were discovered by the DEA. Photo via DEA.

About 30,000 pills laced with fentanyl were discovered by the DEA. Photo via DEA.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The ever-growing opioid crisis that claims thousands of lives a year also is becoming increasingly dangerous for law enforcement agencies, including the DEA.

More police and DEA agents are becoming hospitalized because of exposure to fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opioid that is many times stronger than heroin.

NBC New York reports that law enforcement is relying more protective gear than ever to avoid exposure.

“Whereas heroin can kill you in milligrams, fentanyl can kill you in micrograms,” said Gary Tuggle, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s agent-in-charge for Philadelphia.

The DEA has responded by increasing safety protocols that require agents to wear bulletproof vests, a breathing apparatus and fully enclosed suits.

“What you’re seeing here is the Level A suit, which is the highest level,” DEA Special Agent Pat Trainor said.

Other Stories of Interest

DEA: 30+ People Died in County in Arizona from Counterfeit Painkillers

Synthetic opioid tablets

Synthetic opioid tablets laced with fentanyl.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA said more than 30 people died in Maricopa County in Arizona from counterfeit oxycodone pill laced with fentanyl.

The county confirmed 32 deaths from black-market pill between March 2015 to February 2017, the Arizona Republic reports

The DEA said the counterfeit pills were manufactured in Mexico and smuggled into the U.S.

“What we have is a rapidly expanding opioid-based drug addiction in the country, and we have Mexican drug cartels adjusting to push dangerous drugs on streets,” said Doug Coleman, special agent in charge of the DEA in Arizona. “…They think they’re taking oxy, but they’re actually taking fentanyl, and it’s lights out.”

Other Stories of Interest

Foundation for Economic Freedom: DEA’s War on Painkillers to Blame for Many Deaths

pillsBy The Foundation for Economic Freedom
Value Walk

Many of these deaths result not from painkillers, but from the DEA’s war on painkillers.

Heroin overdose rates doubled in 28 states between 2010 and 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A record-breaking 28,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses in 2014. In 2000, the age-adjusted drug overdose death rate was 6.2 per 100,000 persons. By 2014, it had more than doubled, to 14.7, according to the CDC.

What happened?

The truth is that many of those deaths are completely preventable and result not from painkillers, but from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s war on painkillers.

This week, the Senate is likely to pass the 21st Century Cures Act. Among other things, it allocates $1 billion to help states “combat heroin and painkiller addiction and recovery.” Policymakers would be wise to make sure that states don’t use that $1 billion to make the problem worse.

Who’s Taking Opioids?

Marine corporal Craig Schroeder served in Iraq. In the so-called “Triangle of Death” region, south of Baghdad, a makeshift-bomb explosion left him with traumatic brain injury. Schroeder returned home with a broken foot and ankle and a herniated disc in his back. He suffers from chronic pain in addition to hearing and memory loss.

And the regulations keep coming.

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that half of all troops who return from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from chronic pain.

To read more click here.

Other Stories of Interest

DEA’s War on Synthetic Opioids Targets Cousin of Deadly Fentanyl

Synthetic opioid tablets

Synthetic opioid tablets

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The DEA is waging a war against a deadly cousin of the synthetic opioid fentanyl to curb abuse and overdoses.

The move to ban furanyl fentanyl is part of a larger fight against synthetic opioids, which are becoming increasingly available, the Wall Street Journal reports. 

The synthetic opioids are often sold over the internet by labs in China.

Already this year, the DEA has characterized five synthetic opioids as “Schedule I,” which means they have no medical purpose and can lead to abuse.

The Journal wrote:

Furanyl fentanyl, a relative newcomer, didn’t appear in a national database that tracks drug seizures until December 2015, according to the DEA. It has quickly emerged as a serious killer among designer opioids. NMS Labs, a major private lab that works with states around the U.S., has tallied 325 deaths linked to furanyl fentanyl this year through October.

The legal form of fentanyl is a strong, up to 50 times the potency of heroin, pain reliever that often is used to help cancer patients manage serious pain. But bootleg versions of fentanyl, often made in China and then mixed into the heroin supply or included in counterfeit prescription pills have amplified the U.S. opioid crisis.

Other Stories of Interest

Federal Authorities with Connections to Lobbyists Failed to Combat Painkiller Abuse

pain medsBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Nearly 19,000 people died of overdoses from prescription painkillers in 2014, and another 10,574 died from heroin.

The Washington Post investigated the interaction between the DEA and pharmaceutical distributors and found a troubling connection.

DEA officials said high-level Justice Department officials who were being heavily lobbied by wholesalers eased aggressive civil enforcement against wholesalers.

Civil case filings against wholesalers fell from 131 in fiscal 2011 to 40 in fiscal 2014.

The Post wrote:

Collectively, 13 companies identified by The Washington Post knew or should have known that hundreds of millions of pills were ending up on the black market, according to court records, DEA documents and legal settlements in administrative ­cases, many of which are being reported here for the first time. Even when they were alerted to suspicious pain clinics or pharmacies by the DEA and their own employees, some distributors ignored the warnings and continued to send drugs.

“Through the whole supply chain, I would venture to say no one was doing their job,” said Joseph T. Rannazzisi, former head of the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control, who led the effort against distributors from 2005 until shortly before his retirement in 2015. “And because no one was doing their job, it just perpetuated the problem. Corporate America let their profits get in the way of public health.”

A review of the DEA’s campaign against distributors reveals the extent of the companies’ role in the diversion of opioids. It shows how drugs intended for millions of legitimate pain patients ended up feeding illegal users’ appetites for prescription narcotics. And it helps explain why there has been little progress in the U.S. opioid epidemic, despite the efforts of public-health and enforcement agencies to stop it.

Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., asked Attorney General Loretta Lynch in a letter to respond to the Post’s findings.