According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid prescription rates are dropping in Louisiana, but former FBI Director Louis Freeh warns federal loopholes could threaten that progress. A report from the Freeh Group suggests policy proposals would loosen restrictions on imported drugs.
Freeh says the US has a closed prescription system, but these proposals would open it up to unregulated drugs.
“Where for instance you could go to an online pharmacy, whether or not it’s a legitimate pharmacy, and order prescription drugs to come into the United States,” Freeh said.
This year state lawmakers passed a package of bills aimed at reducing opioid prescriptions, including limiting first-time prescriptions. Freeh says that could encourage people to use other drugs, as legal prescriptions become harder to obtain. He says while prescription opioids are certainly addictive, counterfeit imported drugs can pose even higher risks.
“The local laws limiting the prescriptions, which are legitimate prescriptions, that’s a good thing, but you’re really now talking about sort of a massive importation,” Freeh said.
The CDC finds opioid prescriptions have declined roughly 24 percent in the greater Baton Rouge area since 2010. But Freeh says legal prescriptions aren’t the only concern, as addicts will turn to other sources. He’s concerned gaps in federal laws would allow drug dealers to meet that demand.
“The penalties for drug prescription importation if it’s illegal is very, very minimal. So there’s a huge incentive for criminal groups to get involved in this trade now,” Freeh said.