Congressman Greg Walden

Representing the 2nd District of Oregon

Greg Walden on need to combat nationwide opioid epidemic: “Everyone has a stake in this fight”

October 25, 2017
Press Release

Greg Walden on need to combat nationwide opioid epidemic: “Everyone has a stake in this fight”

Questions DEA on lack of cooperation, response to committee investigation into opioid pill dumping

Click here or on the image above to view Walden’s opening remarks from today’s hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As part of his ongoing efforts to combat the opioid epidemic in Oregon, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) today led a hearing on the federal government’s response to the nationwide crisis. Walden, who serves as Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, cited the deadly effects of drug abuse in Oregon as need for an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to address the opioid epidemic.

“In last year alone, opioid overdoses have claimed the lives of more Americans than the entire Vietnam War. In my home state of Oregon, more people died last year from drug overdoses than from car accidents,” said Walden. “We hear these statistics over and over again. At roundtables throughout my district -- most recently in Grants Pass, in southern Oregon, and Bend, in central Oregon -- I’ve heard the stories of Oregonians who put names and faces to these data points.”

Walden also questioned the DEA on their lack of cooperation and response to an Energy and Commerce Committee investigation into alleged opioid pill dumping by major drug companies. Walden, joined by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, has repeatedly requested data and information from the DEA, including a specific inquiry into the shipment of 9 million highly addictive opioid painkillers to a rural town of less than 400 people.

"I’m going to be very blunt: my patience is wearing thin. Our requests for data from the DEA are met with delay, excuses and, frankly, inadequate response,” Walden said in his opening statement. “People are dying. Lives and families are ruined. It is time for DEA to get this committee the information we need, and to do it quickly. No more dodges. No more delays.”

During Walden’s questioning, he followed up on the issues raised during his opening statement, asking Mr. Neil Doherty, DEA’s Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of Diversion Control, a number of questions pertaining to the committee’s ongoing investigation.

Click here or on the image above to view an excerpt from Walden’s questioning 

“We still don’t have all of the answers to the bipartisan letter we sent in May. And some of the responses the DEA has provided, frankly, are not adequate,” Walden began. “For example, in the May letter we asked the DEA to produce documents about delayed or blocked enforcement actions.  Do you know how many documents your agency has produced? The answer is zero. 

“Your agency responded, and this is a direct quote, ‘DEA is unaware of documents related to delayed or blocked enforcement actions and suspension orders.’ Well, we have obtained some documents that look pretty responsive to our request,” Walden said, referring to documents obtained from an anonymous source. “And yet from the agency, we’re told you’re ‘unaware of documents related to delayed or blocked enforcement actions and suspension orders.’ This is a problem. Enough is enough. Will you, on behalf of the DEA, commit today to producing the documents and information we’ve requested, and soon? Or do I simply need to issue a subpoena, because we are done waiting.”

Please click here to view Walden’s full questioning. To learn more about the Energy and Commerce Committee’s bipartisan investigation, click here. 

As Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Walden is at the forefront of the federal government’s response to the opioid epidemic, which takes the lives of 91 Americans every day. Walden called for increased urgency to combat the widespread crisis that has plagued Oregon and the country as a whole.

“We all want to end this scourge,” Walden said.  “We have a duty to our constituents and the American people to combat the epidemic from all angles -- everyone has a stake in this fight.”

For more information on today’s hearing, including an archived webcast, background memo, and witness testimony, please click here.