Press releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. John Kennedy (R. La.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) applauded the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) proposal to reduce production for nearly all Schedule II prescription opioids by an average of 10% for next year.  The DEA is responsible for establishing annual quotas determining the exact amount of each opioid drug that is permitted to be produced in the U.S. each year. 

After today’s announcement, three powerful, addictive painkillers are set to see a significant reduction from what was allowed on the market just three years prior: a 38% cut to oxycodone production over three years; a 48% cut to hydrocodone production over three years; and a 48% cut to fentanyl production over three years. 

In May, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed targeted, bipartisan legislation that will enhance DEA’s existing opioid quota-setting authority by improving transparency and enabling DEA to adjust quotas to prevent opioid diversion and abuse while ensuring an adequate supply for legitimate medical needs.  The Opioid Quota Reform Act of 2018 was introduced in March by Kennedy and Durbin, along with Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).  The legislation will complement and strengthen recent DEA regulations on opioid quota-setting.  The bill is now under consideration by the full Senate.

“This is a huge first step in fighting the battle against our country’s opioid epidemic,” said Sen. Kennedy.  “In Louisiana, overdose deaths increased by more than 14% from 2015-2016.  By reducing the amount of certain Schedule II prescription opioids, we can begin to stop the abuse before it starts.  However, there is still work to be done to stop the addiction cycle.  That’s why my bill with Sen. Durbin is so important; we need an across the board cut to the number of manufactured opioids.”

“In 2016, the pharmaceutical industry produced 14 billion opioid doses—enough for every adult in America to have a three week supply of opioids.  Now we are in the midst of an opioid addiction crisis.  We are losing 115 Americans each day from opioid overdoses – more than 42,000 a year,” said Sen. Durbin.  “There is a growing recognition that we need to take a serious look at how many of these pills are allowed to flood our markets and streets.  That is why I commend the DEA for taking steps—three years in a row—to reduce the number of opioids allowed to be produced in the U.S.  But our work is not done.  Opioid quota reform is needed so DEA can take important factors like diversion and abuse into account when setting quotas, rather than chasing the downstream consequences of this crisis.  And my bipartisan legislation with Senator Kennedy will allow DEA to do just that.  I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get our legislation across the finish line.”