I recently had the privilege of questioning the Acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency, Robert Patterson about the Ensuring Patient Access and Drug Enforcement Act.  This bill was born from visits to local community pharmacies where I learned that seniors and terminally ill patients were having trouble getting their prescription opioids

The bill I introduced in the House used the language “foreseeable risk” as a measure for the DEA to use to enforce their efforts.  This bill was passed by the House without opposition from any Congressman or Congresswoman. The Obama Administration’s Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Agency then insisted that the Senate change the language to “substantial likelihood,” an extremely high burden to prove.

While the DEA testified in 2017 that the “substantial likelihood” language does not “stop the DEA from doing its job in the diversion space…,” the DEA is currently trying to make its agents’ jobs easier by lowering “substantial likelihood” to “probable cause.”  

Even so, my “foreseeable risk” language would have further increased the DEA’s capabilities in fighting the opioid crisis.  

In Tuesday’s hearing, Acting Administrator Patterson testified in front of the House Judiciary committee that “foreseeable is certainly lower than a probable cause and I’ve discussed it with you and others. I appreciate the ability to get that level as low as possible.”  While neither substantial nor probable cause are insurmountable, the language in my original bill of “foreseeable risk” would strengthen DEA’s ability to execute its mission.

It has been alleged by the fake news and my opponent that this law “floods the market” with opioids and makes it harder for the DEA to do their job.  In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. This law has not hindered the DEA in any way. The DEA testified in October 2017 that this law did not fuel the opioid epidemic and that the number of opioids manufactured and distributed has decreased since the law went into effect.  The legislation, at the Obama Administration’s level of “substantial likelihood,” makes it more difficult for the DEA to issue Immediate Suspension Orders (ISO) but not impossible, and in fact, an ISO was issued just last week by the DEA.

To summarize, the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act did NOT affect the DEA’s ability to do their job, it did NOT increase the number of opioids or make the epidemic worse, and it did NOT prevent the DEA from issuing an ISO against a distributor. would like to thank the Acting Administrator for his time.  

As someone who served as a District Attorney and US Attorney for 18 years and as a Congressman for the past 7 years, I have dedicated my life to law enforcement.  I look forward to working with the DEA, and as I have been for the past months, and help them get to the lowest standard they feel comfortable with to stem our country’s opioid epidemic and bring it to its knees.