Marino Calls for Clarity and Effective Action from Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Administration on Opioid Suspension Orders
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Marino (PA-10) called for greater clarity from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on the appropriate standards to trigger opioid distribution immediate suspension orders (ISOs) and echoed calls from witnesses at a hearing for more effective actions to combat the opioid crisis.
Marino noted the frustrations expressed by members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee at the testimony of Demetra Ashley, Acting Assistant Administrator of the DEA’s Diversion Control Division, that the agencies favored a change from the current “substantial likelihood of an immediate threat” standard to trigger ISOs, but could not articulate what that change should be. Ashley also commented multiple times that the agency has used “foreseeable risk” for years in investigations.
The “substantial likelihood” standard was instituted, after negating with the agencies, in the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act, authored by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and passed unanimously by both Houses of Congress and signed by President Barack Obama. Congressman Marino observed Ms. Ashley’s expression of the DEA’s current preference for the “foreseeable risk” standard in the initial version of the Act he had introduced in the House.
“I share the frustrations of my Senate colleagues over the shifting and unclear positions of the DOJ and DEA on the appropriate standard for immediate suspension orders,” stated Congressman Marino. “That’s especially true given the near-unanimous agreement of witnesses at the hearing on the need to balance enforcement and access for pain patients and the fact that the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act has not hampered the agencies’ effectiveness in any way.”
“I agree with the Senators who called for DOJ and DEA to provide clear suggestions on the standard for ISOs, and believe that if a change is needed, the ‘foreseeable risk’ standard would be a reasonable starting place. At the same time, the agencies should heed the suggestions of witnesses to pursue more effective actions to clear out the bad actors fueling the opioid crisis, especially better data-sharing to spur collaboration between law enforcement agencies and distributors.”