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HDA Statement in Response to 60 Minutes

December 18, 2018

ARLINGTON, Va. — “The latest episode of 60 Minutes perpetuates a number of myths around the opioid epidemic and does a disservice to any effort to truly understand and address its root causes — notably, the shift in medical practice to treat pain more aggressively and the role of illegal drugs in most overdose deaths.

“60 Minutes and the plaintiffs’ lawyers suing distributors refer to a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) database, but fail to report that distributors do not have access to the most critical information in the database — the amount of medicine a pharmacy or hospital receives from all distributors. Moreover, the reporting fails to account for the dramatic change in the practice of medicine that resulted in year-over-year increases in the number of opioid prescriptions written by doctors. The effect of that change in medicine was an increase in DEA’s annual quota for the production of opioids. Through this quota system DEA allocated the raw material for opioid production to opioid manufacturers.

“Distributors’ primary role is logistics, providing safe and timely delivery of prescription medicines. Distributors do not manufacture, prescribe or promote opioids to doctors or patients, nor are distributors in the position to police the practice of medicine. Distributors cannot make determinations about which pharmacies should receive controlled substances or which should be left without any supply when patients arrive with a prescription. The ultimate responsibility and enforcement power in controlling the supply and demand of opioids in the market rests with the DEA.

“Those bringing lawsuits against distributors would be better served addressing the real causes of the opioid epidemic rather than trying to redirect blame through litigation. For our part, distributors are committed to solutions that protect patients and ensure the supply chain can evolve to prevent opioid abuse in the future.”

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