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DEA Moving To Curb Opioid Epidemic By Slashing Production Of Prescription Painkillers
Updated December 27, 2016 5:46 AM
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(UNDATED) - The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is moving to curb the national opioid epidemic by slashing the production of a number of popular prescription painkillers.

In a notice published recently in the federal register, the DEA finalized a previous order on 2017 production quotas for a variety of Schedule I and II drugs, including addictive narcotics like oxycodone, hydromorphone, codeine and fentanyl. The agency has the authority to set limits on manufacturing under the Controlled Substances Act.

In a release, the DEA says it is reducing "the amount of almost every Schedule II opiate and opioid medication" by at least 25 percent. Some, like hydrocodone, commonly known by brand names like Vicodin or Lortab, will be cut by one-third.

Citing falling sales and declining demand from doctors for the drugs, the DEA says the new numbers will "meet the estimated medical, scientific, research, industrial, and export needs for the year and for the maintenance of reserve stocks."

For the past four years, the agency has implemented a 25 percent buffer on quotas for prescription opioids, designed to protect against potential shortages. The DEA says it never had to tap into the surplus, however, and is now eliminating it, which will account for a large portion of the change.

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