KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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House Panel To Investigate Role DEA And Drug Distributors Have Played In Opioid Flood

The House Energy and Commerce Committee wants answers from the Drug Enforcement Administration about its efforts to combat the epidemic and from the nation’s three largest drug distribution companies about shipping practices. Other news stories focus on steps the Trump administration is taking to tackle the drug crisis.

The Washington Post: House Panel Probes Drug Distributors And DEA Amid National Opioid Crisis
A congressional committee Monday opened an investigation into the Drug Enforcement Administration’s slowdown of enforcement efforts in the face of a national opioid epidemic and demanded to know why drug distributors had shipped hundreds of millions of painkillers to communities in West Virginia. The House Energy and Commerce Committee sent letters to the DEA and the nation’s three largest drug distribution companies, giving them until June 8 to answer questions about their responsibilities to combat the rising epidemic, which has claimed nearly 180,000 lives during the past decade. (Higham and Bernstein, 5/9)

Columbus Dispatch: House Investigating Cardinal Health, Other Major Distributors
Cardinal Health and the nation’s two other dominant drug distributors are being investigated by a U.S. House subcommittee based on reports the companies did not give proper oversight to a spike in powerful painkiller orders in West Virginia between 2007 and 2012. The House Energy and Commerce Committee has given Cardinal, AmeriSourceBergen and McKesson a June 8 deadline to submit responses to its questions. (Rose, 5/9)

Detroit Free Press: Trump Officials Price, Conway Take Aim At Opioids In Lansing Visit
When Tom Price, U.S. secretary of health and human services, and presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway came to Lansing Tuesday, there was no talk about the vote in the House of Representatives last week to repeal and replace Obamacare and what impact that might have on Michigan. Instead the two members of President Donald Trump’s administration had a more personal issue to discuss with Gov. Rick Snyder: opioid abuse. (Gray, 5/9)

Stat: Does The White House Need Its Own Drug Policy Office?
A Trump administration proposal to cut the $388 million budget of the Office of National Drug Control Policy by 95 percent has given new urgency to that question, with some administration officials arguing the ONDCP simply duplicates work already done by other agencies. They have also said the proposal is only preliminary. But Regina LaBelle, who worked in the office from October 2009 to January 2017 for the Obama administration, says slashing the office’s budget would be “penny-wise and pound-foolish,” arguing that it makes work at agencies across the government more efficient. (Joseph, 5/10)

And from New York City —

The Wall Street Journal: Fentanyl Hits New York City Hard
John Harte has been shooting up heroin for more than four decades, but he cut back this year because he is afraid of fentanyl, an often deadly synthetic opioid being used to spike heroin. “It’s really, really dangerous,” said the 67-year-old Staten Island resident. “It’s like you’re chasing a dream. And then when you wake up from the dream, your reality is a f—ing nightmare. Or you’re dead.” (Kanno-Youngs, 5/9)

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