Rutledge Urges DEA to Limit the Distribution of Opioids
Demands higher standards to set manufacturing limits on prescription painkillers
LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge joined seven states in pushing federal regulators to consider more information as they set manufacturing limits on prescription painkillers in hopes a more thorough review will lead to fewer overdose deaths.
“Opioid distributors and manufacturers have flooded Arkansas with millions of pills - 62 opioid pills for every man, woman and child in the State,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Limiting the excessive manufacturing and distribution of opioids is an important proactive step that will help combat this epidemic and save lives.”
Along with this effort, Rutledge has led the country with a multifaceted approach of education, prevention and litigation. In April 2018, Rutledge filed a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson and Endo for creating and fueling the epidemic that has devastated so many in the State. In April 2019, Rutledge then filed suit against distributors McKesson, AmeriSource Bergen and Cardinal, for allowing millions of opioid pills annually to be diverted to people who do not have a medical need for the drugs. Rutledge launched the Prescription for Life program, a free educational digital platform on which more than 15,000 high school students have participated throughout the State.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is required to account for illegal drug diversion by setting quotas, but the states question whether the methodology used to set next year’s manufacturing limit is enough.
The letter filed by Rutledge and colleagues late Tuesday argues DEA officials must adopt a uniform methodology for all controlled substances, do more to account for overprescribing and expand its universe of information sources.
The current data sets make accounting for diversion difficult, but argues such complexity cannot hinder progress. For instance, the letter suggests that the DEA take into greater account data from its Drug Take Back Day as evidence of overprescribing.
The states also suggest DEA officials should consider best practices developed by the medical community and State regulators, in addition to improving the usability of its reporting system and its suspicious orders database.
The DEA’s proposed limits for 2020 slash hydrocodone manufacturing by 19 percent and oxycodone by 8.8 percent in one year.
Arkansas joined the West Virginia-led filing along with attorneys general in Florida, Idaho, Louisiana and Nebraska and the governor of Kentucky.
To sign up for the Prescription Drug Abuse Summit on Nov. 14, or for more on how Attorney General Rutledge is combating this opioid epidemic, visit ArkansasAG.gov.
Read the filing at http://bit.ly/2MPGcOt.