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Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP/Getty Images

The Drug Enforcement Agency authorized manufacturers to continue producing substantial amounts of the narcotic painkiller oxycodone between 2002 and 2013, despite the dramatic increase in deaths from opioid overdoses, according to a report by the Justice Department's inspector general released Tuesday.

Why it matters: Drug companies have been the target of blame for the drastic climb in opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. over the past 2 decades, and they're now facing thousands of lawsuits from cities and other communities. The companies' defense in many of these lawsuits is that they were producing pills at a level permissible by the DEA.

"We found that DEA was slow to respond to the significant increase in the use and diversion of opioids since 2000. We also found that DEA did not use its available resources, including its data systems and strongest administrative enforcement tools, to detect and regulate diversion effectively. Further, we found that DEA policies and regulations did not adequately hold registrants accountable or prevent the diversion of pharmaceutical opioids."
— DOJ inspector general

By the numbers: Overdose deaths rose by an average of 8% from 1999 to 2013 and then spiked to 71% from 2013 to 2017, per the report.

  • The DEA, which is responsible for setting the level of narcotic painkillers that can be produced annually, approved a 400% increase in oxycodone output between 2002 and 2013. Cuts in production didn't begin until 2017.

Though last year was the first time opioid deaths dropped in 30 years, the decline in overall mortality appears to be driven mainly by a decline in the abuse of prescription painkillers.

  • Yes, but: Overdoses involving fentanyl, cocaine and meth are all continuing to increase.

Go deeper: Purdue Pharma's bankruptcy doesn't clear all legal hurdles

Go deeper

6 mins ago - World

Israel to approve new construction in West Bank settlements

Bennett (L) and Biden discussed the settlements issue. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty

Israel will approve the construction of 4,400 new homes in the West Bank next week: 3,10o in the Jewish settlements and 1,300 in Palestinian villages.

Why it matters: This will be the first time Israel has approved new settlement-building since President Biden assumed office, and the first time since 2007 that it approves a significant number of new homes for Palestinians in "Area C" of the West Bank, which is controlled by Israel.

House votes to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress

Steve Bannon. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The House of Representatives voted 229-202 on Thursday to hold former Trump strategist Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the Jan. 6 select committee.

Why it matters: The Justice Department will now consider bringing criminal charges against Bannon, marking a significant escalation in the Jan. 6 committee's efforts to enforce subpoenas against Trump allies who refuse to cooperate.

Biden: Jan. 6 Capitol riot "was about white supremacy"

President Biden speaks during the 10th anniversary celebration of the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial with Vice President Harris in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 21. Photo: Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden said Thursday that white supremacy motivated rioters who carried out the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Driving the news: "The violent, deadly insurrection on the Capitol nine months ago, it was about white supremacy, in my opinion," Biden said at an event commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington.