August 16, 2018 / 4:02 PM / a month ago

Trump administration proposes production quota cuts for six opioids

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Trump administration on Thursday proposed that U.S. drugmakers cut production quotas of the six most abused opioids by 10 percent next year to fight a nationwide addiction crisis.

In a statement, the U.S. Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said the proposed cut would be in keeping with President Donald Trump’s effort to cut opioid prescription fills by one-third within three years.

Trump on Thursday also pressed U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to sue drug manufacturers over the opioid crisis.

“I’d like to bring a federal lawsuit against those companies,” Trump said during a meeting of his Cabinet at the White House. He did not name the companies.

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Addiction to opioids - mainly prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl - is a growing U.S. problem, especially in rural areas. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids were involved in more than 49,000 deaths in the country last year.

The Justice Department and the DEA said they are proposing to cut production quotas for oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone, hydromorphone, morphine, and fentanyl by 7 percent to 15 percent, depending on the compound, in 2019.

Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed by states, counties and cities against opioid manufacturers including Purdue Pharmaceuticals LP, Endo International Plc (ENDP.O), Mallinckrodt Plc (MNK.N) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) seeking to hold them responsible for contributing to the epidemic.

Those companies were not immediately available for comment.

In March, Trump unveiled a plan to get tough on opioids, including cutting opioid prescriptions by changing federal programs, funding for other initiatives and stiffer sentencing laws for drug dealers.

He also suggested the death penalty for dealers, a proposal that has gained little support from drug abuse and judicial experts.

Reporting by Tim Ahmann and Steve Holland in Washington and Michael Erman in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Susan Thomas

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