July 15, 2019 Feature

The Opioid Crisis: A Failure of Regulatory Design and Action

Leo Beletsky and Jeremiah Goulka

The United States is almost three decades deep into the drug overdose crisis. Upwards of 72,000 people died of a drug overdose in 2017 according to the CDC, pushing down overall life expectancy for the third year in a row. The rapid increase in overdose deaths has generated a flood of well-worn policy interventions and media narratives, mostly targeting the health care system and the pharmaceutical industry as the principal culprits. We challenge this narrative by examining the role of America’s drug control watchdog—the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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