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.

Unlock this article by subscribing to STAT Plus and enjoy your first 30 days free!

GET STARTED

What is it?

STAT Plus is STAT's premium subscription service for in-depth biotech, pharma, policy, and life science coverage and analysis. Our award-winning team covers news on Wall Street, policy developments in Washington, early science breakthroughs and clinical trial results, and health care disruption in Silicon Valley and beyond.

What's included?

  • Daily reporting and analysis
  • The most comprehensive industry coverage from a powerhouse team of reporters
  • Subscriber-only newsletters
  • Daily newsletters to brief you on the most important industry news of the day
  • Online intelligence briefings
  • Frequent opportunities to engage with veteran beat reporters and industry experts
  • Exclusive industry events
  • Premium access to subscriber-only networking events around the country
  • The best reporters in the industry
  • The most trusted and well-connected newsroom in the health care industry
  • And much more
  • Exclusive interviews with industry leaders, profiles, and premium tools, like our CRISPR Trackr.
  • well it’s a damn shame the people who need it everyday people it was over 50 years old or so and have legitimate problems pain problems with her back neck knees whatever real pain can I receive the pain medication they need and there’s people out here selling their medications for eight to $10 a piece and making $10,000 a year better they’re probably not even paying a dime for! That’s my opinion

  • I’m a disabled Veteran with TBI, I also have both shoulders with torn rotator cups, my c spine is fused together c-4 to T-1, L5S1 iswith a lamonactomy. I have 6 fashiotomies from Factor five Leiden from both parents. My knees are bone on bone and no surgeries can be done because of the factor five. My legs can swell with edema from 19” up to 40” in the past and present. I have muscles detached from the bone and this causes muscle spasms so bad the pain is bad enough to make you cry. I can barely walk and my lungs are collapsing from non usage. So the chart in my doctors which I have many I am at a constant 10 and to make matters worse as a palliative patient who can die at any time has to beg to get the injections like dilauded since it is the only one that works when my body goes into spastic pain. I’m told there is no shortage that could be taken care of over night by smaller manufacturers. I also read that the one great city of Philadelphia has enough drugs on the street for the try state area. So what is the Director of the especially the DEA have to say to Veterans who yes will have a addiction but have to live in severe pain until death which sometimes goes into years. Nursing home and hospice homes that have gone to enema based analgesics. I think they should become a patient in one of these places since they could have safe drug induced pain but be given no pain meds and give them a few good days of serious pain that they can know what I am going through. Again yes we will be addicted but we will live with respect and in a pain low enough to enjoy our family’s. I’m not going to get better because of a blood disorder and they can go to their parties and not suffer and sweep us under the table. I’m a republican who knows that it’s not the doctors who are making any epidemic. DEA raids are not on drugs supplied by doctors but other countries like China, Russia, Mexico etc.
    The Director of the DEA is trying to blame doctors when they know it is the cartels and countries that has made this mass historia against doctors and parents.
    I think I have done my job to serve my country yet my government has swept me aside.
    Mark H
    USAF Veteran DISABLED

  • Kolondy,I don’t want your Suboxone.Chronic pain patients are not addicts.
    Rewrite the CDC guidelines,they were created in violation of federal law.
    STOP THE WAR ON CHRONIC PAIN PATIENTS ANDREW KOLONDY!

  • CCSVI is a Treatable Congenital Science Confirmed Recognized Medical Condition Established Role/Part 44 so Called Neurological Afflictions Including Multiple Sclerosis!

    If your veins are blocked they should be opened if you have ms symptoms or not!!! #CCSVI

    Hey Justin Trudeau! #HonMinSciKirstyDuncan Make Available National CCSVI Strategy! Scientific Clinical Trial Research, into more than promising Treatment and Therapies, for Canadian VOTERS w/ NO options!
    #CCSVI #HSCT
    Remember Bill C-280
    https://openparliament.ca/bills/41-1/C-280/

    Regard Ryzaard Wierzinski……
    .”The CCSVI treatments despite the short-term improvements in many cases, showed the correctness of the road to be followed. In many cases the improvements remained and they were not “placebo” effects. They proved that Dr. Schelling was right. Unfortunately these CCSVI treatments were performed by inappropriate specialists, who had no idea of the blood system in the brain and of the nervous system. These times are now over.
    A new era of operations lies before us, which will be performed by the best specialists of the circulation and of the nervous system: that is the brain and the spinal cord and the lymphatic circulation. In addition the best specialists in the world, our loved Dr. Schelling, will be the general consultant.
    And our radiologists worked out a new innovative method of diagnosis (TESLA 3 MRI + MRV), which will co-operate with the very best ANGIOGRAPH. On October 2nd I spoke 30 minutes with Dr. Schelling about this. As soon as Dr. Schelling saw some very revealing pictures – the results of the work of our radiologists which operated the MRI TESLA 3 and MRV – he conceded that this is a very good method, and that nowhere in the world such a “acrobatic radiological” work is performed. He spoke only in the best terms about these radiologists. One of the keys to success is a good diagnosis. Already one of the performers of the operation (a neurochirurgical surgeon) saw the results of the combination of the pictures of the MRI and of the MRV together with the ANGIOGRAPH. The results were MIND-BOGGLING! – everything was visible. This doctor never before saw pictures of such quality!”
    Ryszard Wiercinski

    Facilitating Research into Venous Angioplasty Blood Flow Treatment/s, as Baseline Primary Care Option, Treating Neurovascular and Autoimmune Disease!!! Eliminating the cause of Multiple Sclerosis will
    End MS !
    It is unquantifiable the length of time SymptoMS can be ‘TREATED’ !
    CCSVI has been Scientifically Confirmed to be Causative factor in MS, and studies show plays part in 43 other so called Neurological afflictions !
    The Recognized Medical Condition, could be effecting yourself, right now without knowing !
    CCSVI/Neurovascular Disease Research
    Learn and join the discussion –
    Follow Twitter : @ms_matko
    Facebook Group :
    Multiple Stenosis Society

    #CCSVI
    Venous Hypertension>microbleedings>iron
    >inflammation>free radicals
    >neurodegeneration
    #multiplesclerosis

    Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.- Benjamin Franklin

  • This entire situation makes me sick!! I am just so darn tired of anti-opioid zealots and their unsubstantiated PROPaganda and claims that prescription narcotics were the lone cause for the uptick in OD’s and abuse in general!

    If it were really that simple things would have gotten much better by now and not a whole lot worse for everyone concerned.

    They’ve been cutting back RX’s for years now! My dose began getting reduced around early 2013! It wasn’t medically justified either. My doc said he was preparing me for what was coming.

    There are too many intervening variables that aren’t being considered! Or, maybe they’re being conveniently left out?? Maybe, their consideration was just too much work?

    Narcotic abuse has been a perpetual issue that has had plenty of time and resources to be properly explored and remedied! But, rather than learn from other countries that have had tremendous success the US & Canada waited for things to become exponentially worse and then rather work through it logically, compassionately or humanely they pulled what they usually do and reacted in a drastic and ubiquitously harmful manner. Even when the so-called unintended consequences were realized they fully ignored them and placed emphasis on the unintended aspect so that in hindsight they could say: loops! Oh well, too late and besides it has done ‘some’ good. So, rather than work to abate the harm they are just steamrolling ahead! Total BS!

    What has the government done about the real crisis of heroin … other than ensuring its production by having US soldiers guard Afghanistan poppy fields?

    Way to go gov! CIP’s (esp. vets), are committing suicide daily and at a higher than ever rate! And addicts have gone from using safer pharmaceuticals to Fentanyl laced with heroin! Good grief! The fact that they’ve made matters worse couldn’t be any more apparent! If it were a snake it’d have bitten ’em all by now!

    Most of us involved and/or effected by the draconian application of the perverted intentions of the CDC, Kolodny and their merry band of nitwits know and have seen the real data, have seen their claims uncovered and denounced by industry experts for the cherry picked pseudoscience it is, and we know their PROPaganda campaign rests squarely on personal bias that amounts to an utter disregard for an individual’s constitutional rights! YES! Proper and adequate pain relief is a human right!

    They have salted bits of half truths with just enough plausibility that every scared witless, soulless, first do no harm to one’s self, spineless physician has been able to chomp onto one bit or another to justify totally abandoning their long time and well documented patients! Sure bet they sleep just fine at night having convinced themselves that they’re actually doing no harm while they wash down that salty bite size mediaspeak or rather “governmentspeak” snack with a tall glass of denial.

    What REALLY and SERIOUSLY concerns me and keeps me awake at night other than my own waaaay under treated CIP is that these A**hats still believe that too many prescriptions are still being written!!!

    SAY WHAT!?? Seriously!??

    What about all the good, decent, and honest people that have already lost their medications entirely!??

    With this sort of CRAZY in play these poor folks will probably never get their lives back! Physicians are still being told that there are too many scripts being written and they’re all too aware of the DEA’s attacks on legit practitioners. So, tell me, what physician is going to call attention to their practice by giving back much needed relief to those who’ve already been entirely abandoned!? It makes me sick! It needs to stop!

    Historically, chronic pain both malignant and nonmalignant had been severely under treated. There was a call to address this serious issue. Sooooo… doctors began to write more prescriptions. Duh! There is one variable that’s been conveniently left out of the equation! And hey, how about the fact that more and more baby boomers have reached an age where their bodies are broken from decades of manual labor? I’m sure that’s played a role in the increase of RX’s for pain. There’s too many factors being left out.

    Unfortunately, Purdue Pharma, looking to recoup their R&D for OxyContin, went a bit overboard with their advertising campaign. But, their greed and the physicians that apparently forgot everything they were taught about narcotics and somehow let themselves believe big pharma had altruistic motives and that they’d made some sort of magical coating that rendered a narcotic safe for the first time in … well, ever… Does NOT Negate the very real fact that narcotic therapy for chronic intractable pain is still the best option for many people to live some sort of a semblance of a quality life once all other options have been exhausted!!

    That’s another thing I am so sick and fricken tired of!!

    WHY do these zealots and government folk think that people that had already been put on high dose opioid therapy had not already tried everything under the sun!!??

    I mean, they have made it seem as if every single doctor had gone straight to pharmaceuticals!! Personally, I spent like 18 years managing my severe pain without daily opioid therapy!! I’d like to see one of them deal with mind blowing pain 24/7 for nearly 20 years and tell me they’d like to do another 20 w/out adequate relief! I’m betting the vast majority wouldn’t last a day!

    All in all this crazy and dangerous quota bologna is going to only hurt American citizens! Lord forbid we end up with a major catastrophic event and hospitals aren’t able to help everyone in need! Never mind that patients, who are expected to use one pharmacy (and must now due to e-scripts), will no doubt show up to pick up their medication only to be told it’s not in stock and it’ll take a week to get! Ahh, but alas I suppose this IS what they want! Force people into withdrawal and then hopefully to the ER because they cannot tolerate the symptoms where they’ll be treated to a lack of dignity, respect, compassion all while being forced to wait for at least eight hours to be told they can be only receive meds to help the symptoms of withdrawal and the heck with their pain!

    This is NOT my America!! This is NOT the country I was proud to be a part of. It’s something totally different. Maybe, just maybe these ARE “the latter days” – ??

    Sorry to ramble on and on like usual. But gosh, I’m so fed up with all the illogical and inhumane ploys! *SIGH*

    • Please pardon my typos. I thought I caught them all but I just saw a couple. Like, “loops” should have been “oops”. Ug! My auto spell check just did it again. It replaced oops with loops & I almost didn’t notice again.

      Anyway, aside from our government trying to cull the herd … I hope everyone has a happy, love filled, and joyful holiday season!! Sending prayers to one and all <3

  • What this Really boils down to you have a few olgarchys that have hedged against a pharmaceutical companies and used the DOJ,DEA, & meida to perpetuate this misconception of legal drug use with illegal regardless who it kill this government of ours doesn’t give a nickel f@*: about the disabled in this country.

  • When the DEA built a case against McKesson, a huge distributor of opioids, over many years and recommended criminal and civil prosecution they were rebuffed by prosecutors. Instead, McKesson paid a measly $150 million fine and had to reduce distribution in a few warehouses and submit to a monitor for a while.

    $150 million is not even a week’s profit – it’s pocket change and not a meaningful penalty. Those agents built a case but the political will to pursue criminal charges was zero. So, now, they’re being asked to lower quotas after prescribing already peaked 5 years ago. Brilliant.

    See: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/whistleblowers-dea-attorneys-went-easy-on-mckesson-the-countrys-largest-drug-distributor/

  • What about the people who can not stand a life of pain again. Maybe they considered ending their life before? Now it may be that they refuse to go back to a life of pain again and will consider this even more now since they have experienced a little relief. Maybe our government should take a long look at this . Obviously they have not !

    • Oh, they know what they are doing. No doubt. Population control ay its dirtiest. No matter what, we who suffer mind bending chromic pain are now existing in the culling fields.

  • The DEA has all ready made life for people like me and thousands of others with chronic pain lives more difficult which has lead to hunreds of suicides and thousands of doctors scared to death to treat anyone with chronic pain what a country we live in that treat the disabled like criminals it too bad no one will stand up for our rites.

  • I’ve been on opioid seance 1999 for a work related injury to my lower back. At the same time I got a hernia that got infected due to mesh and suechers 7 surgeries damaged my left groin and my leg put that with my back yes there is alot of pain I would no wish it on anyone . .But seance State and Gov. Has cut meds for people like myself and many others nation wide we suffer with little me they left us with . Don’t blame chronic pain patient like myself for others who sell there med just to make a buck they should be random drug test to catch the bad patients and stop putting real patients though he’ll with the lack and cuts on meds . a friend in pain James

    • I am a mon, wife, daughter.. only in my late 40s, I was hurt very bad in a accident. I broke everything.. neck, bsck, arm, leg, siatica, foot.. was told I probably would not walk .. but I am my father’s daughter, very cherokee, and after 3 years of wheelchair, walket, crutches, 6 years later I am walking.. but I could not have without pain meds .. oxycontin.. I am always in pain, I am full of metal rods, but I walk. . Now my Dr of 12 yrs said she can’t be my Dr anymore even though she knows me, what I have gone thru. She says I have to go to a pain center, the Dr there says he knows I’m in horrible pain, he even found a tumor in my neck, but the CDC says I must be tapered off my medicine. That was 6 months ago, I cannot walk without my crutches anymore, I can’t drive anymore.. you have stolen my life from me. I am not a addict, I did not go thru withdraws, I am just in so much pain I cannot walk down my stairs, move my neck, get groceries for my family. I pay my taxes, my family fights in our wars, I am American indian. Because someone else was a bad parent, citizen I must suffer. This is not America

Comments are closed.

A roundup of STAT’s top stories of the day in science and medicine

Privacy Policy