Opioid action finally taken

For many years, drug companies pumped opioid pain pills into West Virginia at an incredible rate. To cite just one of several horror stories, during a decade-long period, 20.8 million of the pills were sent to two pharmacies in Williamson, which has a population of only about 2,900 people.

No one in the federal government seemed to think that was worth even noticing. Meanwhile, thousands of Mountain State residents were dying of drug overdoses, many because of addictions that began with opioid pain pills.

Earlier this year, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey sued the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, insisting it do more to curb the flow of opioid drugs into the state. Shortly thereafter, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions pledged the DEA would become more involved.

And this week, the DEA formally put new rules in place. They are complex, of course, but they amount to the agency paying more attention to how many pain pills are shipped to states — and how many are being diverted to illicit uses. The rules also give states more power to point out abuses and demand DEA action.

Good for Morrisey. His determination to make the DEA do its job is a step forward in the battle against substance abuse, not just in West Virginia, but throughout the nation. The attorney general deserves enormous credit.

So now, the DEA is taking a more active role in the war against drug abuse. One wonders why it took action by Morrisey to make that happen.

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