Group of senators pressure DEA to prioritize opioid epidemic during pandemic

Washington D.C.

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — “What we’ve seen during the pandemic is a rise in opioid overdoses,” West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said.

Capito is concerned the pandemic is making the opioid epidemic worse.

“All the strides that we’ve made in the past in terms of naloxone and other measures that we’ve done to try to lessen the problems of addiction have really been wiped out unfortunately under this pandemic,” Capito said.

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin says things like job loss and social isolation are putting additional stress on those fighting addiction.

“And now we see the results of that, having more fatalities and more overdoses than ever before. And it’s happening during the pandemic,” Manchin said.

Both senators want the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to adjust its operations to respond to the challenges.

A DEA spokesperson says “DEA’s mission of enforcing the nation’s drug laws and battling the opioid crisis continues without interruption, despite the global pandemic.”

But Manchin says the DEA needs to crack down harder, especially on anyone who may be taking advantage of the increased demand to make more money.

“The DEA is supposed to stop that from happening and anybody who doesn’t report to the DEA is in federal violation. Do your job, DEA,” Manchin said.

Manchin and Capito say the DEA needs to keep doing the things that led to success before the pandemic, in order to rebuild the path to recovery during this difficult time.

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