The Department of Justice (DOJ) finalized a proposal Wednesday giving the agency more power to control how many opioids are produced annually in the U.S.
Under the proposal, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) could issue stricter limits on certain opioids if federal authorities believe they are being misused.
The DEA currently sets annual quotas for how many opioids can be manufactured after accounting for a number of factors, including demand. The proposed regulation would allow the agency to also consider the extent that a drug is abused.
"Today's new rule, by taking diversion of these opioids into account, will allow the DEA to be more responsive to the facts on the ground," Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits McCabe wins back full FBI pension after being fired under Trump Overnight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability MORE said in a statement. "More importantly, it will help us stop and even prevent diversion from taking place."
The DOJ argued that the changes will "encourage vigilance on the part of opioid manufacturers," help the agency respond to the changing drug environment and protect U.S. citizens from addictive drugs.
Experts say the overproduction of opioids has contributed significantly to the ongoing epidemic.
More than 42,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.