The Drug Enforcement Administration has faced criticism for its role as a gatekeeper in the opioid addiction epidemic, with Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg lamenting during a congressional hearing this year that “we are part of the problem.”

But the DEA is taking a step this week that will reduce the amount of opioid medications manufactured in the U.S. next year. Production quotas for several highly addictive and potentially fatal drugs — including oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine and hydrocodone — will be reduced in 2017 by up to 34 percent over the amounts allowed this year, according to a final order to be published Wednesday in the Federal Register.

The DEA controls the amount of drugs produced annually in order to meet research and medical needs. In a statement issued Tuesday, the agency indicated the reduction results from a decrease in demand for opioids via prescriptions and the elimination of an artificially-high production requirement to avoid drug shortages.

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