Former DEA official helped pharmaceutical company increase drug quota, watchdog says

WASHINGTON, Dec.2 (Reuters) – A former senior U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration official has wrongly granted preferential treatment to a pharmaceutical company seeking to increase its quotas so it can manufacture more drugs, said Thursday the internal oversight body of the Ministry of Justice.

In a one-page investigative summary, Inspector General Michael Horowitz said the unnamed official “abused” his official position by giving the drug company preferential treatment and pressuring his subordinates to they approve of the increase in quotas.

The raise was requested by a second anonymous former DEA official who worked for the company, according to the report.

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The former DEA official at the heart of the watchdog’s internal investigation had also apparently planned to work for the pharmaceutical company upon his retirement and “lacked candor” with the DEA’s chief counsel office to disclose these. plans, according to Horowitz’s report.

“The senior DEA official abused the position of the senior DEA official by granting preferential treatment to a request from the pharmaceutical company that employed the former DEA official,” the report said. “The senior DEA official lobbied and ordered his subordinates to approve the request.”

A DEA spokesperson made no immediate comment on the findings.

The Inspector General’s report does not identify the company involved, or whether the former senior executive eventually went to work there.

Because the Inspector General of the Department of Justice only has the legal authority to compel current employees to testify, the official was able to retire and refused to appear voluntarily for questioning.

The department also refused to prosecute the official who granted preferential treatment to the drug maker.

The DEA has come under intense scrutiny in recent years for its role in exacerbating the current opioid crisis in the United States.

The agency uses a quota system designed to ensure that drug makers are able to produce enough drugs for medical, scientific, research and industrial needs.

The quotas apply to drugs deemed to be addictive and fall under Schedules I and II.

Critics accused the DEA of failing to proactively reduce the supply of painkillers made in the United States by simply limiting the annual quota.

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Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch, editing by Rosalba O’Brien

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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