The revolving door with ex-Justice Dept. officials and DEA officials also plays into this:
"For example, the drug manufacturer, Purdue Pharma, faced a civil suit in West Virginia in 2001 for their aggressive marketing of OxyContin. Their company had claimed that their drug had “reduced addiction risk” and even asserted that opioids posed an addiction rate of “less than one percent.” Purdue Pharma should have faced much more than a civil suit, but their defense attorney, Eric Holder, negotiated a sweetheart $10 million settlement. That was only a fraction of the profits from the sales of OxyContin".
"The production of drugs like OxyContin are not dictated by the supply and demand forces of most consumer goods. No. Drug companies, such as Purdue Pharma, meet privately with officials from the DEA to discuss their production goals. In turn, the DEA’s Diversion Control Division decides the limits for production for each drug. To be perfectly clear, the DEA dictates the exact market size for all controlled substances. However, their agency remarkably continued raising the limits for prescription opioids while this epidemic worsened".
"These reports clearly demonstrated the corrupting power of the revolving door between the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control and the private sector. One article revealed that 42 former DEA officials (31 with the Office of Diversion Control) had taken jobs at pharmaceutical companies or law firms representing them since 2005. In most instances, they joined those companies only weeks after leaving the agency. Consequently, several field agents noticed a drastic shift in protocol as more ex-DEA officials began working for the drug companies. In fact, these agents insisted that their supervisors were often working against them to prevent their cases from coming to fruition".
"He encountered pushback even when implementing limited actions against major drug distributors. As mentioned earlier, the DEA suspended the license of Cardinal Health’s Lakeland facility in 2012 when the agency was armed with a mountain of evidence. Nonetheless, Rannazzisi described the events leading up to that decision for The Washington Post. That included multiple encounters with top DOJ officials who pressured him to not suspend Cardinal Health’s license. These DOJ officials had been contacted by former members of the Justice Department who were presumably working on behalf of Cardinal Health".
"To wrap up, the DEA has deftly avoided accepting any culpability for this opioid crisis. For instance, the DEA Chief, Chuck Rosenberg, made an appearance last year on CBS This Morning. He was asked why his agency hasn’t significantly cut back the production quota for prescription opiates. Rosenberg replied that had the DEA had reduced the limits that year, but he didn’t mention the specifics. The production limit for oxycodone was reduced in 2016 to 108 tons, which is a 1300% increase from 20 years earlier".
*108 tons = 216 thousand pounds, one hell of a bunch of oxicontin pills!