- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Tuesday the Justice Department intends to review a 2016 law that made it more difficult for the Drug Enforcement Administration to investigate suspicious shipments of pain pills — though he stopped short of advocating for any changes.

Mr. Rosenstein was reacting to a report by the Washington Post and CBS’s 60 Minutes that drug industry-friendly members of Congress pushed a law that made it “virtually impossible” for the Drug Enforcement Administration to suspend orders of narcotics that could fall into the hands of corrupt doctors or illicit pharmacies. In the wake of Sunday’s report, some Democratic lawmakers have called for the law to be repealed.

“We are going to review it,” Mr. Rosenstein said Tuesday, flanked by the new acting DEA administrator as authorities announced a major fentanyl drug bust. “If we conclude they don’t have the appropriate tools, then we will seek more tools.”

Acting DEA Administrator Robert Patterson defended the agency’s work, saying that while the legislation did effect how agents did their jobs it didn’t stop them from investigating matters.

“We did not stop doing what we were supposed to be doing at the DEA,” said Mr. Patterson, who has been on the job less than two weeks.

Mr. Patterson said the changes in the law did lead to a decrease in the number of “immediate suspension orders” the DEA used to suspend the licenses of pharmaceutical distributors.

“When the legislation was passed, it did impact how we looked at immediate suspension orders,” he said.

But Mr. Patterson said the DEA strategy shifted to begin relying on other tactics to address suspicious pain pill shipments. He said the number of voluntary surrenders of DEA registrations increased.

“I don’t think this notion that we slowed down is an accurate one,” he said.

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