DEA proposes lowering opioid production in 2020

DEA proposes lowering opioid production in 2020

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

In an effort to curb drug diversion and misuse, the Drug Enforcement Administration has suggested cutting the production of five opioid drugs manufactured in the U.S.

"What the DEA is trying to do is look and see what we really need to use and limit where the access points are for people to divert and get access to fentanyl, opioid, narcotics who don't really need access," Wesley Wells, pharmacy manager at Covenant Children's, said.

This includes fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone and oxymorphone. 

Using numbers from 2016, the DEA's quota would average to a 53 percent decrease in legal production, including morphine itself.

Wells said the idea could be a good step toward fighting the opioid epidemic.

"I think the whole opioid epidemic is multifaceted, there's multiple things moving on. I think the idea is really to, if you want to reduce how much somebody can steal, you reduce how much is available, so I think the idea is there," Wells said.

The proposal is also raising concerns of drug shortages for patients who need them.

"We've struggled with that with narcotics before, so more of that is on us and working with physicians, with nurses, other providers and making sure that we're using them on the right kind of people, we're conserving narcotics for people who really need it, people with cancer and chronic pain and other illnesses like that," Wells said.

The DEA reported it can change a manufacturing company's quota at any time once the established quotas are set. A change can be made due to higher sales, new manufacturers entering the market, new product development or product recalls. 

There is a public comment period open until Oct. 10. The DEA will post the finalized rule later this year.

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