SJ Quinney College of Law, University of Utah


Part I of this Article suggests that the medical establishment shares more blame for the crisis than many commentators seem to appreciate. Part II canvasses a variety of ways in which the federal government has responded to the opioid problem during the last few years before delving more deeply into the FDA’s role in the mess, assessing the different tools that it has tried to use as well as some that it failed to employ. This Article concludes that the agency should have allowed only a narrowly defined subset of physicians to prescribe opioid analgesics, even though the medical community would have pitched a fit about any such an intrusion on its prerogatives, to say nothing of the drug manufacturers aghast at the prospect of far more modest sales. Greater use of such restrictions on distribution might have worked to nip this disaster in the bud, and it needs more serious consideration by the FDA before the next one comes down the pike.