October 17, 2017

Senator Hassan Helps Introduce Legislation Repealing 2016 Law After Reports that It Hurts Aggressive DEA Enforcement of Opioid Distributors

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) announced that she helped introduce legislation sponsored by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) repealing the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016 after media reports indicated that Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) personnel believe it has restricted the ability of the DEA to crack down on opioid distributors suspected of wrongdoing.

“In the midst of the opioid crisis that is devastating New Hampshire and states across America, we need to be strengthening – not weakening – the ability of law enforcement to go after reckless opioid distributors that put our communities at risk,” Senator Hassan said. “As Governor, I fought to ensure that law enforcement has the tools and resources it needs to combat this crisis and I am continuing that focus in the Senate. Any action that undermines law enforcement’s ability to go after bad actors is unacceptable, and repealing this legislation is an important first step to helping ensure that the DEA has the tools it needs to combat this crisis.”

The 2016 bill 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.

Senators Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) joined four of their democratic colleagues last month to introduce legislation that would shed light on DEA quotas on OxyContin and opioid pain medication, and the secretive process by which the pharmaceutical companies gain approval to produce the deadly opioid painkillers that are taken in New Hampshire and across the country.

Also last month, Senator Hassan participated in a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee roundtable discussion on opioid sales and marketing, where she highlighted the New Hampshire Department of Justice investigation into the marketing practices of Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin and other opioid products, and the civil lawsuit filed by the New Hampshire DOJ last month as a result of that investigation. The roundtable followed a new report from Ranking Member Claire McCaskill scrutinizing the sales and marketing practices of opioid maker Insys Therapeutics.