the opioid crisis has been a top priority for the West Virginia Attorney
General’s Office since Attorney General Morrisey was sworn into office in
January, 2013. As part of this effort,
the Office conducted a multi-year investigation into federal regulators’ role
in allowing excessive over-production of the prescription opioids that fueled
this crisis. An excessive supply of
opioids enables the diversion of these drugs away from legitimate medical and
scientific uses into the hands of abusers.
The widespread diversion and abuse of prescription opioids was
well-documented by 2010, raising the question of what the United States Drug
Enforcement Administration (“DEA”)—which controls the annual production of
opioids— was doing to stem the tide. By
law, the DEA is supposed to set aggregate production quotas (APQs) for
controlled substances at a level that reflects legitimate medical and
scientific needs of the United States.
Yet from 2010 to 2016, APQs for opioids were often increased, and almost
never decreased. Thus, the Office
conducted an investigation into the APQ process seeking an explanation for this
Office conducted its investigation through Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”)
requests that sought information from the DEA, regarding how it accounted for
diversion of opioids when setting annual production quotas (“APQs”) from 2010
to 2016. The responses to the two
requests the DEA granted are available below. These documents are presented in the same grouping and format in which they were initially produced, which sometimes means pages are presented out of sequence or are missing.
You can read
the full report, detailing the investigation’s findings, conclusions, and
recommendations here: Read Report
Volume I: Documents
responsive to the Office’s June 2017 FOIA request
FOIA request sought information regarding what data was flowing into the
process of setting APQs. This request
sought all communications from outside sources to the DEA requesting increases
or decreases in the APQs for the most commonly abused opioids, including
communications from drug manufacturers and from other government agencies.
this request involved documents that were in the custody of other agencies,
some documents were
provided in separate productions by the FDA.
II: Documents responsive to the Office’s March 2019 FOIA request
FOIA request asked the DEA for “all documents . . . showing how
and when the Office of Diversion Control accounted for diversion of
prescription opioids in setting annual drug quotas” for quota years
2010-2016. This request also asked for
communications between leadership and staff at the Office of Diversion Control
regarding how the quota management system related to the scope and magnitude of
the opioid crisis.