Justice Department Submits Confidentiality Order For DEA Drug Data

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The Drug Enforcement Administration is preparing to give attorneys access to opioid sale data in a massive lawsuit over the addiction crisis. But the general public likely won’t see it.

Attorneys for cities and counties in Ohio and across the country say the DEA’s data would show the extent of defendant drug companies’ painkiller sales. They also say it would help them identify other possible companies to sue.

After a hearing on Monday in Cleveland, U.S. District Judge Dan Polster wrote that a DOJ attorney would try to get permission to share the number of pills sold in each state, major manufacturers and distributors, and their market share over nine years.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Tuesday the government would cooperate as best it could in disclosing data.

“We are looking at that very hard,” Sessions told reporters. “I’ve instructed our attorneys, in the last several days actually, to make sure whatever we can produce for them, we know we can produce, let’s do it now. And if there are areas that need additional search before it’s revealed, we should do that. We’ll get busy about it.”

The Justice Department today proposed a protective order limiting who can see that information. Only court staff, experts, lawyers—and sometimes their clients—can.

The order bars disclosure to the media and the public. If local governments receive records requests, the DEA and defendants can challenge them, leaving the judge to decide whether to release any confidential information.

Read the full proposed protective order here.

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