Bipartisan group urges Congress to repeal Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act

DES MOINES – Attorney General Tom Miller joined 43 state and territorial attorneys general in urging Congress to repeal a 2016 federal law to enable the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to act against registered drug manufacturers and distributors that willfully contribute to the nation’s oversupply of prescription pain killers.

The Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016 makes it virtually impossible for the agency to halt suspicious drug shipments from drug distributors to suspected pill mills, thus hampering the DEA’s response to the opioid crisis.

“In the midst of this deepening public health crisis – at a time when our nation needs every available weapon at its disposal to combat the opioid epidemic, the Act effectively strips the Drug Enforcement Administration of a mission critical tool, namely, the ability to issue an immediate suspension order against a drug manufacturer or distributor whose unlawful conduct poses an immediate danger to public health or safety,” the attorneys general wrote in a letter sent late Monday to U.S. Senate and House of Representative leaders. “We urge you to repeal the Act so that the public is protected and drug manufacturers and distributors may be held accountable for their actions.”

In 2016, more than two million Americans had an addiction to prescription or illicit opioids. Since 2000, more than 300,000 Americans have died from overdoses involving opioids.

Last year in Iowa, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health, 180 people died of opioid-related causes and health care facilities admitted 2,274 patients for opioid treatment. Since 2005, opioid-related treatment admissions statewide have more than tripled.

Attorneys general have been fighting the opioid crisis over the years on multiple fronts with civil law enforcement actions, including lawsuits, investigations and settlements.

In September, Miller announced that Iowa is part of a multistate probe that seeks to determine whether opioid manufacturers and distributors engaged in unlawful practices in the marketing, sale, and distribution of opioids. The investigation is ongoing.

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