WASHINGTON (TIP): The Justice Department is preparing to launch a renewed strategy to address the unrelenting scourge of heroin and opioid addiction, in part by placing greater emphasis on identifying links between over-prescribing doctors and distribution networks across the country, reports USA TODAY.
The plan, outlined by Attorney General Loretta Lynch in an interview with USA TODAY, is part of an eleventh-hour push by the Obama administration against a public health crisis that continues to claim nearly 100 people each day in the United States.
In a memo that is expected to be circulated next week to all 94 U.S. attorney offices, Lynch said prosecutors are being urged to more readily share information across state lines about prescription drug abuses by physicians that could identify traffickers and far-flung trafficking routes more quickly.
At the same time, Lynch said federal prosecutors will be directed to coordinate their enforcement efforts with public health authorities in their districts as part of an overall strategy that puts equal emphasis on prevention and treatment.
“I’m not calling anybody out, because I think the people who look at this problem realize quickly how devastating it has been to families, to communities, to public health dollars, to law enforcement resources,” the attorney general said. “There is no one magic bullet for this.”
While opioid and heroin addiction have earned the distinction as the single greatest drug threat in the U.S., largely due to a casualty rate that has nearly quadrupled since 1999, the federal government’s effort to counter it – or even slow it – has been spotty.
Earlier this year, the Obama administration requested nearly $1.1 billion as part of a plan to pay for drug treatment, invoking a common refrain that drug overdoses – driven increasingly by heroin and other opioids, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone – are responsible for more deaths than car crashes. Yet after Congress approved landmark legislation in July for expanded drug addiction treatment and prevention, it did not include the $181 million to actually fund the measure.