Political News

House panel threatens to subpoena DEA over pill dumping in West Virginia

Posted October 25, 2017 12:30 p.m. EDT

— Members of the House energy and commerce committee threatened to subpoena the Drug Enforcement Administration over documents related to opioid "pill dumping" in West Virginia.

The threat comes after several, months-long requests for data on the companies supplying millions of oxycodone and hydrocodone pills to towns in West Virginia, a state heavily affected by the opioid epidemic.

"If you needed to get this information for enforcement action, I suspect and hope you'd get this information quickly, within hours or days?" Committee Chairman Greg Walden asked DEA Deputy Assistant Administrator Neil Doherty.

"To me, this is a pretty basic question. Who are the suppliers?" Walden later added.

Doherty said much of the information requested was provided to the committee the night prior to the panel. However, Walden and other committee members said some of the data the DEA has produced has been insufficient. He continued by saying another source provided information the DEA said they were unaware of.

"Enough is enough," the Oregon Republican said. "Will you, on behalf of the DEA, commit today to producing the documents and information we requested, and soon? Or do we simply need to issue a subpoena? Because we are done waiting."

"Sir, we appreciate your concern and absolutely, we are treating it with the utmost importance, as it should be treated," Doherty responded. "There is no reason for the extended delay of the questions for the record, which is now in the possession of the committee. We will make every effort to expedite every request that is outstanding to the committee."

Committee Vice Chairman Joe Barton threatened to "bring the wrath" of the committee "down on the DEA" if they didn't provide sufficient information based on their requests.

"It is inexcusable when people are dying every day from opioid overdoses that we've got, apparently, a three-month, four-month, running dodge from the Trump administration," the Texas Republican added.

Rep. Frank Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat, asked for the DEA's commitment for timely responses to their requests.

"You have our commitment that we will take every request from this committee seriously," Doherty said. "We will review it carefully, and we will try to make every effort whatsoever to respond in a timely, timely fashion."