Democratic Senator Threatens to Put Confirmation of DEA’s Michele Leonhart on Hold

Sen. Herb Kohl/gov photo
By Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON –– The long winding road to confirmation as head of the DEA ain’t over yet for Michele Leonhart, who won the approval of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. She has been acting head of the agency since 2007 and must still win approval of the full Senate.

Evan Perez of the Wall Street Journal reports that Democratic Senator Herb Kohl (D-Wis.)is threatening to block her confirmation “amid a dispute over restrictions on how nursing homes dispense prescription drugs to patients.”

The Journal reports that the DEA has intensified its crackdown of nursing homes that dispense powerful prescription drugs by nurses and staff without doctor authorization.

The Journal reports that industry groups say nursing homes don’t have enough doctors present to prescribe drugs at every turn.

Sen. Kohl  said Wednesday he’ll put a hold on the nomination “until we have made more progress towards our goal of ensuring that nursing home residents get timely access to the prescription drug care they need,” the Journal reported.

“Every day nursing home patients continue to suffer from agonizing pain and we need an interim solution as soon as possible,” Kohl said, according to the Journal.

The DEA deferred to the White House for comment, the Journal reported, adding that the White House said it is looking into the matter.

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