New DOJ Opioid Task Force Complements Ongoing E&C Investigation


Task Force Can Help Lead to Answers to Some of Committee’s Most Pressing Concerns About Pill Dumping Allegations in West Virginia

WASHINGTON, DC – Earlier today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of the Prescription Interdiction and Litigation (PIL) task force, meant to strengthen the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) response to the diversion and over-prescribing of opioid pain pills. In doing so, Attorney General Sessions will galvanize the DOJ to investigate questionable actions taken by drug manufacturers, distributors, and others.

According to prepared remarks, Attorney General Sessions stated, “We will use criminal penalties.  We will use civil penalties.  We will use whatever tools we have to hold people accountable for breaking our laws. The task force will work closely with the Department of Health and Human Services, and it will coordinate with law enforcement at all levels.”

The announcement also stressed that possible legislative and regulatory changes to current law would be examined. It also follows a January 2018 commitment by DOJ to unleash a “surge” of DEA agents to review pharmacies and prescribers who appear to be providing or prescribing unusually large amounts of opioids.

The creation of the PIL task force is welcomed, and has the potential to help address some of the very questions bipartisan Energy and Commerce Committee leaders have been asking as part of our ongoing investigation into alleged pill dumping in West Virginia. Bipartisan committee leaders have probed the nation’s largest distributors, regional distributors, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) about their efforts in the state while an overwhelming supply of opioids flooded the state’s small communities.

Specifically, the DEA’s efforts will be the subject of a #SubOversight hearing the week of March 19, 2018.

Additionally, #SubHealth will commence legislative hearings reviewing legislation to combat the opioid crisis tomorrow. The first of three hearings will review several bills pertaining to the Controlled Substances Act, exploring ways to ensure patient safety while bolstering enforcement efforts.

To learn more about the committee’s ongoing investigation and other efforts to combat the opioid crisis, click here.