With the US at the center of an opioid addiction crisis, the DEA is fighting this trend by reducing the amount of almost every opiate and opioid medication that will be available in 2017.
The overall reduction will be 25%, but certain medications will be reduced even more. For instance, hydrocodone manufacture will decrease by at least two-thirds from its current levels.
How did the DEA come to this decision? The agency analyzes the legitimate demand for these medications by determining the number of prescriptions written by practitioners registered with the DEA. A company called IMS Health provides this information. The firm tallies data on prescriptions written and sold in the US to provide to insurance companies.
The agency determines an Aggregate Production Quota (APQ) to determine how many narcotics are needed in the US. This quota takes into account the amount of a controlled substrate that is needed to meet the medical, scientific, research, export, and industrial needs for a year. In addition, it factors in what is needed to maintain reserve stocks.
The APQ for 2017 will be lower for a number of opiates including hydrocodone, oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine, and hydromorphine. In previous years, the APQ for these drugs included a 25% reserve buffer to prevent shortages.
The DEA is tightening supplies of these drugs in the wake of a national survey on drug use and health from 2015. The newly released information revealed that 6.5 million Americans who were over 12 years old had used controlled prescription drugs non-medically during the month surveyed.
These numbers are highly disturbing. Marijuana was the only drug abused at a higher level than these prescription drugs. Even more sobering is the statistic that controlled prescription medicines were abused at a higher rate than heroin, cocaine, and hallucinogens combined.
Hopefully, the reduction in the manufacturing of opioid drugs will result in fewer of them being diverted for non-medical use.