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Federal regulators order reduction of opioid production amid abuse epidemic

Something readers may not be aware of is that federal regulators have the authority to limit the amount of controlled substances which may be manufactured in the United States on an annual basis. Under the Controlled Substances Act, the United States Attorney General is required to set annual manufacturing quotas for basic classes of Schedule I and II controlled substances to ensure an adequate supply.

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration, which is the agency delegated the authority to handle such matters, recently issued a final order establishing initial aggregate production quotas for 2017. The new numbers reportedly represent a 25 percent reduction in production for almost all Schedule II opiates and opioid medications, though the manufacture of certain medications was reduced by an even greater amount.  

The purpose of setting quotas for the manufacture of controlled substances was to prevent diversion of these drugs from legitimate use, though changes in manufacturing quotas are also driven by market demand, which has reportedly decreased for opioid medicines, even as opioid addiction continues to be a serious problem in many areas of the country. Young people, a recent study shows, are particularly at risk, as well as older adults.

According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the abuse of opioid medicines costs the U.S. economy around $78.5 billion per year. Almost 25 percent of those costs are picked up by public sources such as Medicaid and Medicare and government-funded treatment programs. Then, of course, there are the costs that cannot be easily monetized.  

Here in Wisconsin, the problem is significant, with a recent surge in the use of Heroin and other opioids. In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this topic, as well as the importance of working with an experienced criminal defense attorney when one is facing charges related to the possession, use or trafficking of prescription drugs.

Sources:

Title 21 United States Code (USC) Controlled Substances Act

Health Day, “Opioid Epidemic Costs U.S. $78.5 Billion Annually: CDC,” Mary Elizabeth Dallas, Sept. 21, 2016.

Health Day, “Risk of Opioid Addiction Up 37 Percent Among Young U.S. Adults,” Robert Preidt, Oct. 4, 2016.  

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