RALEIGH, NC (WECT) - US Attorney General Jeff Sessions traveled to Raleigh Tuesday to discuss the ongoing opioid epidemic in a meeting closed to the public.
Sessions said he was blown away by the rising rates of hospital visits due to opioid overdoses in the state.
"We are not going to accept the status quo," Sessions said in front of a crowd of select law enforcement officials in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District in North Carolina. "Business as usual is over. Ending the drug crisis is a top priority of this Department of Justice and the Trump administration."
The attorney general placed much of the blame on a select group of physicians and pharmacists. He claimed they take advantage of the system, overprescribing to make money without regard for the effect it's having on patients.
"We are going to hammer them," Sessions said. "We are going to keep after them and we are going to put an end to that."
Sessions rolled out a new plan to hold opioid distributors accountable. The Drug Enforcement Agency may soon be able to set limits on the amount of opioids distributors can prescribe.
If the DEA believes businesses are overprescribing or abusing their power, the agency could crack down on the distributor.
"The Drug Enforcement Administration and our department have figured out a way to use computer data and analytics to identify outlying physicians, pharmacies and other groups who are pushing out large amounts of drugs way beyond what any normal physician is doing," Sessions said.
A new agreement was reached Tuesday between the DEA and 48 attorney generals, including North Carolina AG Josh Stein, to share prescription information. Sessions said this collaboration will help both parties gather "evidence of a crime."
Sessions also raised concerns about fentanyl, a dangerous and potentially deadly opioid. The attorney general said parts of the country haven't seen the presence of fentanyl and his department still has a chance to get out in front of the opioid's potential spread.
People in Wilmington have died after overdosing on drugs laced with fentanyl. WECT was prepared to ask Sessions about fentanyl in the Cape Fear Region, but Sessions did not answer any questions from the media after giving his remarks.