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Axios Oct 15
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Congress derails opioid crackdown

A seized bag of fentanyl displayed at the DEA's lab in Sterling, Virginia. Photo: Cliff Owen / AP

"Amid a targeted lobbying effort, Congress weakened the DEA's ability to go after drug distributors, even as opioid-related deaths continue to rise, a Washington Post and '60 Minutes' investigation finds," according to the Washington Post's Scott Higham and Lennie Bernstein:

  • "In April 2016, at the height of the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history, Congress effectively stripped the Drug Enforcement Administration of its most potent weapon against large drug companies suspected of spilling prescription narcotics onto the nation's streets."
  • "A handful of members of Congress, allied with the nation's major drug distributors, prevailed upon the DEA and the Justice Department to agree to a more industry-friendly law, undermining efforts to stanch the flow of pain pills."
  • "By then, the opioid war had claimed 200,000 lives, more than three times the number of U.S. military deaths in the Vietnam War."
  • Why it matters: "Overdose deaths continue to rise. There is no end in sight."