Thirty-three U.S. senators have demanded information on last year’s law that stripped the Drug Enforcement Administration of its most potent weapon against companies suspected of spilling hundreds of millions of addictive painkillers onto the black market, reports the Washington Post. The senators said the law required DEA and the Department of Health and Human Services to report to Congress on the law’s impact by April 16. Six months later, no report has been submitted. They demanded an immediate update, saying they “want to ensure the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and other related agencies have all of the tools necessary to fight this epidemic.”
The Post and “60 Minutes” reported last week that a small number of members of Congress, allied with parts of the drug industry, had pushed through a law that undermined DEA efforts against wholesale drug distributors that have allowed pain pills to get into the hands of users and dealers. In the House, that effort was led by Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA). Marino, who withdrew as President Trump’s nominee to become the nation’s drug czar, criticized the news reports and accused former DEA official Joseph Rannazzisi of trying to deflect blame for a failure to stem the U.S. opioid crisis. For 10 years, Rannazzisi led the DEA’s crackdown on wholesale opioid distributors. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said he worked with the Justice Department to craft the final language. DOJ or any senator could have stopped the bill, he said. The Post and “60 Minutes” said the DEA accepted the language only after concluding it was the best deal they could get.