The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) plans to target the nation's pharmacies and prescribers in a nationwide crackdown against opioid abuse, Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability Stanford professors ask DOJ to stop looking for Chinese spies at universities in US Overnight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program MORE announced Tuesday.
Sessions told agents in Louisville, Ky., that over the next six weeks the DEA will begin a nationwide investigation of pharmacies and drug prescribers that are issuing "unusual or disproportionate" numbers of opioid prescriptions.
"DEA collects some 80 million transaction reports every year from manufacturers and distributors of prescription drugs. These reports contain information like distribution figures and inventory. DEA will aggregate these numbers to find patterns, trends, statistical outliers—and put them into targeting packages," Sessions said, according to a transcript of the speech.
"That will help us make more arrests, secure more convictions—and ultimately help us reduce the number of prescription drugs available for Americans to get addicted to or overdose from these dangerous drugs."
America's drug epidemic reached critical levels in 2016, with at least 66,000 deaths from overdoses reported, including 42,249 deaths from opioids. Opioid overdose deaths now kill more Americans every year than breast cancer, according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"We still have a lot more work to do reduce violent crime and turn the tide of the opioid epidemic," Sessions said Tuesday.
"That’s why we are also taking steps to decrease the number of overdose deaths," he added.
"I have also assigned experienced prosecutors in opioid hot spot districts to focus solely on investigating and prosecuting opioid-related health care fraud. I have sent these prosecutors to where they are especially needed—including Kentucky."
President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE declared the opioid crisis a national health emergency last October, saying, “We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic.”