(CNSNews.com) – “We will not stand back and let crime and addiction rise,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions told a gathering in Louisville, Kentucky on Tuesday, hours before President Trump’s State of the Union Address.
Sessions announced an immediate crackdown on those who prescribe and dispense “unusual” amounts of opioid drugs:
Now I am announcing today that, over the next 45 days, DEA will surge Special Agents, Diversion Investigators, and Intelligence Research Specialists to focus on pharmacies and prescribers who are dispensing unusual or disproportionate amounts of drugs.
DEA collects some 80 million transactions reports every year from manufacturers and distributors of prescription drugs. These reports contain information like distribution figures and inventory. DEA will aggregate these numbers to find patterns, trends, statistical outliers — and put them into investigative packages.
That will help us find the abusers, make more arrests, secure more convictions, and ultimately help us reduce the number of illegal prescription drugs available for Americans that lead to addiction or to overdose deaths from these drugs.
Sessions said the country is in the middle of its deadliest drug crisis ever, with an estimated 64,000 people dying because of drugs in 2016. “That’s roughly the population of Bowling Green dead in one year,” Sessions said. ” And in 2017 it appears that the death toll was even higher.”
Sessions noted that drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50, while millions of Americans are struggling with addiction.
Last August, Sessions announced the creation of a new data analytics program calledd the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit, which uses data to identify and prosecute individuals who are contributing to the opioid epidemic. It shows who is prescribing the most drugs, who is dispensing the most drugs, and whose patients are dying of overdoses.
“The numbers don’t lie, even if the fraudsters do. And now the fraudsters can’t hide,” Sessions said.
President Donald Trump briefly mentioned the opioid epidemic in his State of the Union Address Tuesday night, saying: “We must get much tougher on drug dealers and pushers if we are going to succeed in stopping this scourge.
“My administration is committed to fighting the drug epidemic and helping get treatment for those in need. The struggle will be long and difficult — but, as Americans always do, we will prevail.”