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WASHINGTON — In a bland Northern Virginia office building nestled between a Costco and a freeway interchange, a dozen government scientists have spent the past year crunching numbers and making the following determination: In 2018, drug makers will be allowed to produce no more than 98,145 kilos of oxycodone, 38,047 kilos of morphine, and 1,342 kilos of fentanyl.

The precise limits are set as part of a little-known process in which, every year, the Drug Enforcement Administration regulates the volume of controlled substances that can be produced in the United States.

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  • @ebb: your comment about the DEA now focusing upon Ativan/Lorazepam was troubling and I’m sorry for the difficulties you suffered. Two folks in my family have need of its occasional use but, fortunately, there’s been no trouble in our filling the prescriptions. Our situation might be different in that the Rx’s are generally filled every 4-6 months.

    Not to challenge your assertion but I was wondering if you had any evidence of your claim? I don’t doubt the DEA might do as you wrote about; hence, it would be useful to know “why” they’d be challenging such a well-tolerated drug for anxiety when properly prescribed and utilized.

    In any case, hope that this was a one-time problem for you and wish you well.

  • Thank you so much for this article!

    It appears now in 2019 that the DEA has turned their sights to drugs like Ativan (lorazepam). My Rx was delayed for multiple days without explanation from Kaiser of Norcal. No one at KP seemed to know what the real problem was, but they were not going giving me any Ativan. Suicidal ideatons, paranoia, and panic ensued. No message to me re: a “backorder”, no message sent to doctor re: a backorder. Now I know who else was behind this: the DEA has set quotas re: manufacturing of drugs like Ativan and therefore distribution.

    • Kaiser is renowned for “running out” out of a drug, like ativan. I have no doubt that certain agencies are causing delays in distribution, but K makes it seem like their distribution problems are their own. I suggest writing complaints through so that the issue is documented. You can also file a complaint with the Dept of Consumer Affairs —> Last you could also try fling a complaint with CA Dept of Health of Health Care Services – they have a record of “disciplining” Kaiser mental health services for ineffective long term care of patients.

  • in 2010 oxycodone and oxycontin was removed from the market and a less effective brand was introduced resulting in patients having to take larger doses at reduced effectiveness. Insurance companies then wanted to reduce payments and began making patients jump through constant hoops to get prescriptions. After that many patients sought heroin which was cheaper, gave better pain relief and patients weren’t hassled by insurance companies These actions led to the opiod problems of today. Now every government agency is sueing manufacturers with little chance of a big payoff and likely will cause supply problems or bankruptcies that will increase the publics dependance on heroin. Don’t blame manufacturers for problems that were caused by newspapers and regulations because you can’t sue heroindealers.

  • As always, the good,bad,and the ugly,
    The good are people who lowho ,day by day,taking their pain meds,as prescribed. They are responsible, people, wheir quality of life,depends on these meds.
    The bad are people, who take these drugs, and mix with achohol, other illegal drugs and want for,pain relief,and also recreational, purposes.
    The ugly are those people who,get the legal drugs,and sell their whole scripts to outside buyers, or sell to young people,with addicting problems,etc.
    The good are casualties of war,for this so called opioid crises. The ones in true needs. The chronic pain sufferers etc…,the ones who cant take the non.steroid, antiinffamitory, because of its damaging, of liver and intestinal properties, also ulcers,and others deseases.
    The outcome will become the withdrawal and pain crises.

  • they implemented a computer monitoring system in florida around 2011/2012, which was good because it keeps the ‘doctor shoppers’ from taking advantage and flooding the streets with oxycodone…however after that pill prices ‘mom & pop’ pharmacies charged went up slowly but surely every year for those who don’t have insurance and have to pay out of pocket… pre-computer system they were around $2 per pill from the ‘mom & pops’ and if you were lucky enough to be able to fill at a chain like walgreens or cvs they were around $.50 cents per pill…then after 2012 — $4-$5 per @ mom&pops’ and $.50-$1 at chains…then 2014/15 — $5-$6 per at mom&pops’ and $1+ at chains…then now 2017/18 $7-$10 at mom&pops’ and still around $1.50+ at chains…but getting into a walgreens or cvs now if you’re under 45 years of age is almost impossible, all of them give the same response, 9 out of 10 times “we’re not taking new patients” or “we don’t have those in stock right now”…and getting into a local mom&pop isn’t easy either, you’d be lucky to find one if you tried 15-20 different pharmacies throughout the day…I know, I’ve been prescribed oxycodone for my back for years now and am in my late 30’s. It’s ridiculous that you have to spend 1-2 days doing the “pharmacy crawl”, what pain patients call it here in florida, going to 20+ different pharmacies, to find a place to fill your medication. Not to mention having to spend one and a half paychecks (between doctor visit and cost of meds are around $800-$1000 without insurance) to get the medicine you need, unless like I said you can somehow get into a walgreens, cvs, walmart, target, etc…which in that case would be around $300-$350 between doctor visit and meds…still expensive for those who don’t have insurance and a minimum wage job. The more the clamps are tightened and qoutas being lowered, the more patients are going to be denied medicine they’ve been taking for years, because of shortages, and then you have people who are forced to self medicate or worse try a cheaper opiate for the pain in the street…cheap bags of heroin, and at that point you’re rolling the dice each time with your life not knowing what’s in those bags. The heroin epidemic has just started and will only get worse in the near future. LEGITIMATE PAIN PATIENTS ARE SUFFERING IN MANY WAYS RIGHT NOW AND I DON’T THINK THATS GOING TO CHANGE ANY TIME SOON.

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