October 26, 2017

Senator Hassan and Colleagues Urge Judiciary Committee to Invite DEA Judge to Testify at Hearing on 2016 Bill that Undermines DEA Enforcement of Opioid Distributors

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan today sent a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee urging them to invite Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Chief Administrative Law Judge John Mulrooney to provide testimony as a witness during a hearing on 2016 legislation that undermines the DEA’s enforcement of opioid distributors.

Senator Hassan was joined by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) in sending the letter.

The Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act (EPAEDEA) of 2016 purported to “improve enforcement efforts related to prescription drug diversion and abuse” by altering DEA procedures for revoking or suspending registrations for opioid distributors under the Controlled Substances Act. However, the effect of these changes, according to the DEA Chief Administrative Law Judge and other DEA personnel, has been to significantly curtail the ability of DEA to bring enforcement actions against drug distributors

“In the midst of the opioid crisis that is devastating our country, we need to strengthen – not weaken – the ability of law enforcement to go after reckless opioid distributors that put our communities at risk,” the Senators wrote.

The Senators added in their letter, “Chief Judge Mulrooney is an expert on DEA enforcement and has written a 112-page law review article about the impact of EPAEDEA – and we encourage you to invite him to give testimony as a witness at the joint Drug Caucus / Judiciary Committee’s EPAEDEA hearing.”

Click here or see below for the full letter:

Dear Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Feinstein:

We write to thank you for your commitment to holding a hearing on the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016 and to encourage you to invite Drug Enforcement Agency Chief Administrative Law Judge John Mulrooney to provide testimony as a witness at the hearing.

In the midst of the opioid crisis that is devastating our country, we need to strengthen – not weaken – the ability of law enforcement to go after reckless opioid distributors that put our communities at risk. We must ensure that law enforcement has the tools and resources it needs to combat this crisis – and any action that undermines law enforcement’s ability to go after bad actors is unacceptable.

The Washington Post / 60 Minutes report that highlighted the changes in the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA’s) authority drew extensively on the work of DEA Chief Administrative Law Judge John Mulrooney. In his forthcoming article in the Marquette Law Review, “Current Navigation Points in Drug Diversion Law: Hidden Rocks in Shallow, Murky, Drug-Infested Waters,” Chief Judge Mulrooney and his coauthor, Katherine Legel, lay out a detailed, compelling argument about some of the potential problems that have and could result from last year’s statute. The judge summarizes the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act (EPAEDEA), provides his perspective on how it changes prior law, and discusses what impact the EPAEDEA has and will have on the agency. Chief Judge Mulrooney writes that EPAEDEA has made it “all but logically impossible” for the DEA to use certain enforcement powers against drug distributors and manufacturers. 

Chief Judge Mulrooney is an expert on DEA enforcement and has written a 112-page law review article about the impact of EPAEDEA – and we encourage you to invite him to give testimony as a witness at the joint Drug Caucus / Judiciary Committee’s EPAEDEA hearing. Administrative law judges have served as witnesses for senate committees in the past, appearing as recently as last year before a subcommittee of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Chief Judge Mulrooney has the knowledge, experience and perspective to serve as a helpful witness for the Drug Caucus / Judiciary Committee – and we expect that DEA will allow him to participate.

Thank you again for your commitment to hold this important hearing, and we look forward to continuing to work with you as you consider the impact and future of the EPAEDEA.

Sincerely,

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