Durbin Discusses Opioid Quotas with DEA Administrator Milgram

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today spoke with Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Anne Milgram about the ongoing opioid epidemic, and DEA’s role in reining in the pharmaceutical industry’s excessive opioid production. Durbin and Milgram discussed DEA’s proposed opioid production quotas for 2022, which will help prevent opioid addiction and misuse. Milgram is the first Senate-confirmed DEA Administrator since 2015.

“Between 1993 and 2015, DEA allowed Big Pharma’s production of oxycodone to increase 39-fold, resulting in the tidal wave of addiction and death across America. To address this excessive and unjustifiable volume of painkillers flooding our communities, I introduced a bipartisan bill to ensure DEA considered the public health consequences of how many opioids it permits to be produced, which was signed into law in 2018. Since then, we have seen significant decreases in opioid manufacturing quotas and I want to commend Administrator Milgram for responding to the opioid crisis with a measured approach to ensure Big Pharma cannot produce and ship these addictive drugs in amounts that exceed legitimate medical needs,” Durbin said.

Durbin, along with U.S. Senator John Kennedy (R-LA), was the lead author of the 2018 law that enhanced DEA’s opioid quota-setting authority by improving transparency and enabling DEA to adjust quotas to prevent opioid diversion and abuse while ensuring an adequate supply for legitimate medical needs. 

The DEA is responsible for establishing annual quotas determining the exact amount of each opioid drug that is permitted to be produced in the U.S. each year.  Between 1993 and 2015, DEA allowed aggregate production quotas for oxycodone to increase 39-fold, hydrocodone to increase 12-fold, hydromorphone to increase 23-fold, and fentanyl to increase 25-fold.  As a result, the pharmaceutical industry flooded tens of billions of painkillers to every corner of the nation, which ignited the current opioid epidemic by putting enough painkillers on the market for every adult in America to have a one-month supply of opioids.  After two decades of dramatic increases to the volume of opioids allowed to come to the market, DEA heeded Durbin and Kennedy’s call over the past five years to help prevent opioid addiction by responsibly reducing nearly all opioid quotas by more than 55 percent.