WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee leaders will hold a press conference open to credentialed members of the media this afternoon to provide an update on their ongoing investigation into alleged pill dumping in the state of West Virginia.
Specifically, the committee leaders will speak to continued stonewalling by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
In a press availability last week at the House and Senate Republican Retreat, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden spoke about the ongoing investigation. As the Charleston Gazette-Mail reports, Chairman Walden told reporters, “I’m very frustrated with the DEA, very frustrated with the Department of Justice,” and “I’ve threatened to issue subpoenas to get to the bottom of it. They’re cooperating more right now than they were prior to that threat. But we will not stop until we know what the heck is going on.”
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), and other committee leaders
WHEN: 2:00 p.m. EST (start time may be flexible due to votes)
WHERE: Studio B, the Capitol
The committee opened an investigation into the distribution of prescription opioids by wholesale drug distributors, with a specific focus on distribution practices in West Virginia, and enforcement practices by the DEA that exacerbated the opioid epidemic.
Bipartisan committee leaders sent letters to the top drug distributors (AmerisourceBergen Corporation, CardinalHealth, and McKesson Corporation) and the DEA in May 2017, regarding reports of extremely high amounts of opioids being distributed in the state. Cited in the letters was the example of Kermit, West Virginia, population 400, receiving nearly 9 million hydrocodone pills in a two-year period.
Bipartisan committee leaders probed a fourth distributor, Miami-Luken.
The committee sent a follow up letter to the DEA.
Additionally, during a full committee hearing on federal efforts to combat the opioid crisis, Chairman Walden grilled the DEA on their lack of cooperation or responsiveness to the committee’s ongoing investigation.
Through its ongoing investigation, the committee revealed that over a ten-year period, drug companies shipped 20.8M pain pills to two pharmacies four blocks apart in Williamson, WV– a town of roughly 3,000 people.
Months after the committee began raising questions about monitoring systems the DEA had in place to detect the potential oversupplying of opioids nationwide, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that “a surge” of DEA agents will examine pharmacies and prescribers who appear to be providing or prescribing unusually large amounts of opioids.
For more information on the committee’s ongoing investigation, click HERE.