The Drug Enforcement Administration announced this week that it is increasing Aggregate Production Quotas (APQ) available to pharmaceutical manufacturers for the production of controlled substance medications. Many of those medications—and some doctors who prescribe them —have been targeted by the DEA. The result has been strong complaints from the chronic pain community that patients have been caught in the crossfire of the DEA crackdown.
Now those some medications are in high demand due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“DEA is committed to ensuring an adequate and uninterrupted supply of critical medications during this public health emergency,” said Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon. “This will ensure that manufacturers can increase production of these important drugs, should the need arise.”
Aggregate Production Quotas for the schedule II-controlled substances represent the total amount necessary to meet the country’s medical, scientific, research and industrial needs, lawful export requirements, and for the establishment and maintenance of reserve stocks.
DEA has issued a final order to increase the 2020 APQ by 15 percent for certain substances needed for the treatment of COVID-19, including fentanyl, morphine, hydromorphone, codeine, ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, and certain controlled substance intermediates which are essential to their production.
DEA will also increase the APQ for methadone to ensure that opioid treatment programs have sufficient supplies to treat patients suffering from opioid use disorder.
In addition, DEA is increasing the authorized amounts of certain schedule III and IV controlled substances that may be imported into the United States, including ketamine, diazepam, midazolam, lorazepam, and phenobarbital, which are also necessary to treat patients on ventilators.
These increases apply to controlled substances identified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as impacted by COVID-19. After the health emergency recedes, DEA will reevaluate demand and adjust APQ levels as needed.