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Office of the Attorney General of West Virginia’s Investigation Into The DEA

Tackling 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 perplexing trend.
The 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
This 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.
Because this request involved documents that were in the custody of other agencies, some documents were provided in separate productions by the FDA.
Volume II: Documents responsive to the Office’s March 2019 FOIA request
This 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.