Pubdate: Tue, 14 Nov 2017
Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Copyright: 2017 The Columbus Dispatch
Author: Jessica Wehrman


WASHINGTON -- Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine joined 43 other state
attorneys general to ask Congress to repeal a law they argue has
damaged the Drug Enforcement Agency's ability to crack down on drug
manufacturers and distributors that have contributed to the nation's
sweeping opioid epidemic.

In a letter Tuesday to House and Senate leadership, the attorneys
general argue that a bill passed by voice vote in 2016 made it more
difficult for the DEA to take action against drug companies that were
flooding communities with prescription painkillers.

The 2016 law -- the subject of a joint investigation by 60 Minutes and
the Washington Post -- made it harder for the DEA to freeze suspicious
narcotic shipments. That's a tool the agency had used to crack down on
flooding the market. The measure was described as an effort to ensure
that patients who needed access to pain pills had that access.

"We urge you to repeal the Act so that the public is protected
and distributors may be held accountable for their actions,"
the group wrote.

In a separate statement, DeWine said the nation needs laws "that enable 
our enforcement community to hold the manufacturers and distributors 
accountable for the opioids they have knowingly poured into our 
communities." In May, DeWine sued five of the nation's leading drug 
manufacturers on behalf of the state of Ohio.

Both Ohio Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown, who along with all
Ohioans in the House supported the bill via a voice vote, have voiced
concerns about the measure. Both senators said no one raised concerns
about it when it was pending in the Senate. Brown has since written a
letter to the DEA and the Department of Health and Human Services
inquiring about the law's impact and awaits a response.
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