WASHINGTON, DC – The Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), is currently holding a hearing on federal efforts to combat the opioid crisis.
“The primary purpose of this hearing is to hear from the federal agencies charged with implementing the provisions of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) and the 21st Century Cures Act,” said Chairman Walden during his opening remarks. “But it also allows this committee to have an important conversation with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).”
Chairman Walden’s opening remarks continued, detailing the importance of that conversation with DEA.
Click HERE to watch Chairman Walden’s opening statement
…[W]e are also looking for some long overdue answers to basic questions and requests for data that this committee has made to the DEA related to our ongoing investigation into alleged pill dumping in the state of West Virginia.
I’m going to be very blunt: my patience is wearing thin. Our requests for data from the DEA are met with delay, excuses and, frankly, inadequate response. People are dying. Lives and families are ruined.
It is time for DEA to get this committee the information we need, and to do it quickly. No more dodges. No more delays. We look forward to finally hearing directly from DEA on these matters. …
During Chairman Walden’s questioning, he followed up on the issues raised during his opening statement, asking Mr. Neil Doherty, DEA’s Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of Diversion Control, a number of questions pertaining to the committee’s ongoing investigation.
Mr. Doherty, I want to start with a simple question that this Committee has been asking the DEA for months—which companies supplied the pharmacy in Kermit, West Virginia, that received 9 million opioid pills in two years, and the pharmacy in Oceana, West Virginia, that received 600 times as many oxycodone pills as another pharmacy just 8 blocks away, between 2005 and 2016?
Currently we are reviewing the request from the committee, and I do not have that data with me today. I apologize.
Is the DEA going to give us the information and documents we have requested by Friday?
Sir, thank you for the follow up. To your point sir, the DEA, we realize the importance of all the requests from the committee and we treat them as such, in light of the opioid epidemic.
Just yesterday, we finally received answers to questions this Committee sent to the DEA in April. We still don’t have all of the answers to the bipartisan letter we sent in May. And some of the responses the DEA has provided frankly are not adequate. For example, in the May letter we asked the DEA to produce documents about delayed or blocked enforcement actions. Do you know how many documents your agency has produced? The answer is zero. Your agency responded, and this is a direct quote, “DEA is unaware of documents related to delayed or blocked enforcement actions and suspension orders.” Well, we have obtained some documents that look pretty responsive to our request. And yet from the agency, we’re told you’re “unaware of documents related to delayed or blocked enforcement actions and suspension orders.” This is a problem. Enough is enough. Will you on behalf of the DEA commit today to producing the documents and information we’ve requested, and soon? Or do I simply need to issue a subpoena, because we are done waiting.
Sir, we appreciate your concern and absolutely, we are treating it with the utmost importance, as it should be treated. There is no reason for the extended delay of the Questions for the Record, which is now in the possession of the committee. We will make every effort to expedite every request that is outstanding to the committee.
Click HERE to watch Chairman Walden’s full questioning.