A U.S. Sentencing Commission hearing was told Tuesday that customs and border patrol agents had seen a “dramatic increase in seizures” of fentanyl and its analogs, from one kilogram in fiscal year 2013, to 208 kilograms in 2016, to 550 kilograms in 2017—a 160 percent increase over the previous year.
The Attorney General tells a news conference that “effective enforcement” should be a priority for new legislation. He also announced a new DEA Division for the Appalachian region, and the appointment of Kellyanne Conway, one of President Trump’s top advisers, to oversee White House initiatives to combat opioid abuse.
The crisis, which took over 64,000 lives last year, shows no sign of abating, according to a report by the Police Executive Research Forum. The report, based on an April conference of police chiefs and other law enforcement officials, said innovative strategies such as partnerships between police and healthcare providers could prevent the epidemic from spreading.
The opioid epidemic is not a “Republican or Democratic issue,” says Gov. Mary Fallin. She told a conference on women’s incarceration this week that treatment and counseling should be considered legitimate alternatives to prison for individuals charged with low-level drug offenses.
Speaking in opioid-ravaged Ohio, Attorney General Jeff Sessions unveiled a new analytics program to track drug prescriptions and sales, with a dozen prosecutors poised to lower the legal boom on offenders.
President Trump spoke at a White House meeting with recovering addicts. Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore’s health commissioner, said, “We need to move beyond rhetoric. We know what works when it comes to treating the disease of addiction. We now need the resources to be able to combat this epidemic.”
The Missouri Democrat wants five top firms to disclose internal studies that may have detailed the possible risks of addiction and abuse associated with painkillers such as OxyContin and other powerful opioid medications, as well as marketing and business plans to increase sales of opioids.
Abbott partnered with Purdue Pharma, the company that developed OxyContin, in the aggressive marketing of the powerful painkiller to medical professionals. The explosion of OxyContin abuse is blamed by many for planting the seeds of today’s opioid crisis. Abbott’s efforts pushed sales of OxyContin from $49 million in its first full year on the market to $1.6 billion in 2002.