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Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219


For media inquiries only, contact:  
Lara Sisselman, Press Secretary
Phone: (804)786-1022 
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



~ Current law severely limits the DEA's response to the opioid crisis, prevents DEA from issuing immediate suspension order ~

RICHMOND (November 14, 2017) - In an effort to hold drug manufacturers and distributors accountable for the oversupply of opioid pain killers, Attorney General Mark R. Herring sent a letter late yesterday to congressional leaders, urging them to repeal the "Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016" (P.L. 114-145). Attorney General Herring and a bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general are calling on Congress to repeal the 2016 federal law that has severely limited the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) response to the opioid crisis. Since 2000, more than 300,000 Americans have died from overdoses involving opioids, including more than 1,110 Virginians in 2016 alone. The law's impact on undermining efforts to stop the oversupply of opioids was previously revealed in a bombshell report by the Washington Post and "60 Minutes" in October.


"The 'Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act' needlessly limits the DEA's ability to hold drug manufacturers and distributors responsible for the oversupply of opioid pain killers at a time when our agencies should have every tool necessary to respond to the devastating opioid crisis impacting our country," said Attorney General Mark Herring. "I hope Congress will see why the DEA's ability to issue immediate suspension orders is so important to keeping our communities safe and helping those suffering from addiction, and will take action to repeal this law."


"In the midst of this deepening public health crisis - at a time when our nation needs every available weapon at its disposal to combat the opioid epidemic, the Act effectively strips the Drug Enforcement Administration of a mission critical tool, namely, the ability to issue an immediate suspension order against a drug manufacturer or distributor whose unlawful conduct poses an immediate danger to public health or safety," the letter states. "We urge you to repeal the Act so that the public is protected and drug manufacturers and distributors may be held accountable for their actions."


Joining Attorney General Herring in signing the letter are attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Washington, and West Virginia.


Attorney General Herring has made combating the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic a top priority, attacking the problem with a multifaceted approach that includes enforcement, education, prevention, and legislation to encourage reporting of overdoses in progress, expand the availability of naloxone, and expand access to the Prescription Monitoring Program. He has supported federal efforts to improve the availability of treatment and recovery resources and made prescription drug disposal kits available across the Commonwealth. Attorney General Herring recently outlined his recommended next steps for combating the crisis, focusing on law enforcement initiatives, support from the medical community, and recovery, treatment, prevention and education.