In recent years the DEA has been dealing with a vicious cycle that has led to the opioid epidemic we are in the midst of now: Some drug companies do not report suspicious orders of narcotics, some doctors write fraudulent prescriptions, some pharmacists look the other way when filling them, and all of this can culminate with a person having an opioid prescription without ever having seen a doctor.
The DEA once had the power to stop suspicious pharmaceutical sales in order to keep dangerous narcotics off the street, but a new law that passed in 2016 makes it nearly impossible for the DEA to stop a pharmaceutical company’s distribution of products when the company fails to observe federal law.
This investigative piece by The Washington Post delves into how and why this law was able to pass through Congress and asks those who are working against the law to stop the resulting flow of opioids into our streets. The article examines an unfortunate trend of former DEA officials changing careers to work for the pharmaceutical industry — a move that allows them to bring with them extensive knowledge about how to craft legislation that can protect drug companies against the power of the DEA. Those working in the industry defend the new law, stating that it prevents any delays or disruptions for patients in need of medication. But as deaths rise and suspension orders against doctors fall it is clear that the impact of this law is much more complicated than that.