The Justice Department is preparing to launch a new strategy to address the unrelenting scourge of heroin and opioid addiction, in part by placing greater emphasis on identifying links between over-prescribing doctors and distribution networks across the nation, reports USA Today. The plan, outlined by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, is part of what the newspaper calls an eleventh-hour push by the Obama administration against a public health crisis that continues to claim nearly 100 people each day.
In a memo to all 94 U.S. Attorney offices, Lynch urges prosecutors to share information more readily across state lines about prescription drug abuses by physicians that could identify traffickers and their far-flung routes more quickly. Lynch said federal prosecutors will be directed to coordinate their enforcement efforts with public health authorities as part of a strategy that puts equal emphasis on prevention and treatment. “I’m not calling anybody out, because I think the people who look at this problem realize quickly how devastating it has been to families, to communities, to public health dollars, to law enforcement resources,” the attorney general said. “There is no one magic bullet for this.” While opioid and heroin addiction have earned the distinction as the single greatest drug threat in the U.S., as the casualty rate has nearly quadrupled since 1999, the federal government’s effort to counter it — or even slow it — has been spotty.