Lawmakers fear FDA isn't doing enough to fight opioid crisis

As the nation develops strategies to fight opioid addiction, legislators are concerned the FDA has not made strong enough efforts to prevent illegal drugs from entering the U.S., Reuters reports.

House Energy and Commerce Committee members questioned whether the agency's criminal investigators could effectively keep illegal drugs from U.S. ports of entry, according to a letter cited by Reuters.

In the letter addressed to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, lawmakers expressed concern about whether the FDA is properly responding to the opioid crisis.

"We have concerns about whether the FDA is appropriately devoting its resources to prioritize these efforts against unapproved opioids," the lawmakers wrote.

The agency received the letter and will respond, FDA spokesperson Lyndsay Meyer told Reuters.

In March, Reuters noted, Dr. Gottlieb discussed the FDA's efforts to fight the epidemic, such as preventing non-FDA approved opioids from being imported into the U.S.

Last year, the agency tripled the number of FDA investigators in mail facilities and doubled the number of agents at U.S. ports of entry to stop illegal drugs from reaching the nation's streets.

Between September and January, out of roughly 5,800 suspicious packages the FDA inspected through this port-of-entry initiative, 376 were controlled substances. These substances, including opioids, were referred back to Customs and Border Protection for seizure.

But a source familiar with the effort recently told Reuters the port-of-entry initiative has not created many new investigative referrals that could result in prosecutions.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is requesting that the FDA provide statistical data on cases that are generated through the port-of-entry initiative — as well as its prosecution record — by June 22.

More articles on opioids: 
Stigma about opioid use could hinder US epidemic battle, study finds
CMS issues guide on leveraging Medicaid to combat opioid addiction
Trump administration launches ad campaign against opioid abuse

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