The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has announced to reduce the amount of opioid medication that can be manufactured in the country in 2017.
As per final order submitted by DEA in Federal Register, the production of Schedule II opiate and opioid medication could be cut by 25 percent or more. DEA's move would affect the production of drugs including hydrocodone, fentanyl, hydromorphone, morphine and oxycodone. It is noted that the amount of hydrocodone produced would be reduced by 34 percent which is higher than any other drug included.
DEA's decision is influenced by many factors including skyrocketing production of opioids in last the three years from 2013 to 2016. The 25 percent increase in production is attributed to opioid shortage that prevailed in the country at that point of time.
Demand for said opioid medications are found to have decreased as the amount of pills prescribed by DEA-registered practitioners has fallen significantly. The above data is obtained by IMS Health, the company that is involved in providing information to insurance companies about the drugs prescribed and drugs sold in the country.
Another important reason is nothing but the nation's ongoing opioid epidemic risks. Opioid abuse and overdose deaths have increased exponentially in the recent years, for instance, more than six out of 10 overdose deaths in 2014 are attributed to opioid abuse.
Many people are addicted to the opioid pills that are prescribed by doctors to treat chronic pain. Prescription drugs, on the other hand, could be bought easily over-the-counter without much hassle. Some people addicted to such medications also turn to drugs like heroin in later stages.
However, opioid drug issue appears as a double-edged sword as decrease in the production might bring unintended consequences as well. There was a 39 percent increase in heroin deaths in 2011 when Florida governor, Rick Scott tried to contain prescription of excessive painkillers to patients. As a result prescription overdose deaths decreased significantly while heroin death rate skyrocketed.
"When Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), the quota system was intended to reduce or eliminate diversion from "legitimate channels of trade" by controlling "the quantities of the basic ingredients needed for the manufacture of [controlled substances]." The purpose of quotas are to provide for the adequate and uninterrupted supply for legitimate medical need of the types of schedule I and II controlled substances that have a potential for abuse, while limiting the amounts available to prevent diversion," noted DEA press release.
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