The opioid epidemic continues to devastate communities across the country. Drug overdose is now the leading cause of death for people under 50 in the United States, with more than 115 people dying every day. Opioid-related ER visits in Florida increased nearly 100% in the decade between 2005 and 2014.
I know there are no easy solutions to this epidemic, but I am committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make progress alongside the many community organizations already doing life-saving work. And this week, we did just that by passing 25 bills to secure the necessary resources and support to reverse this horrific trend.
Our bills will empower the health care workforce to improve addiction prevention and treatment for Americans struggling with addiction, expand research into the opioid epidemic, study alternative pain-treatment methods, increase education, improve addiction-support resources, prevent drug trafficking and more.
Here are the bills we’ve passed so far this week:
H.R. 2851 - Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues (SITSA) Act—modernizes the Controlled Substances Act and outlaws 13 synthetic fentanyls that have been identified by the DEA as an immediate threat to public health.
H.R. 5327 - Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers Act—establishes comprehensive opioid centers that provide treatment and recovery services.
H.R. 5041 - Safe Disposal of Unused Medication Act—allows home hospice providers to safely dispose of unused prescriptions of controlled substances.
H.R. 449 – Synthetic Drug Awareness Act of 2018—requires the U.S. Surgeon General to submit a comprehensive report to Congress on the public health effects of the rise in synthetic drug use among our youth in order to further educate parents and the medical community on the health effects of synthetics.
H.R. 4284 – INFO Act—establishes a public electronic database to compile information on federal efforts to stop the opioid crisis so that federal, state and local officials can develop the most effective strategies to prevent addiction, enhance addiction treatment efforts and keep prescription drugs from falling into the wrong hands.
H.R. 4684 – Ensuring Access to Quality Sober Living Act of 2018—authorizes the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to develop best practices for sober living homes.
H.R. 5002 – ACE Research Act—expands the authority and flexibility of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct innovative research on ways to prevent, treat, diagnose and cure diseases with non-addictive pain medications.
H.R. 5009 – Jessie’s Law—helps ensure doctors have access to a consenting patient's prior history of addiction in order to make fully informed care and treatment decisions.
H.R. 5176 – Preventing Overdoses While in Emergency Rooms Act—creates a program aimed at preventing repeat opioid overdoses.
H.R. 5228 – SCREEN Act—expands the authority and capacity of the FDA to combat the import of illegally manufactured opioids, like heroin and fentanyl.
H.R. 5272 – RESULTS Act of 2018—requires the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to issue guidance to grantees seeking to treat mental health and substance use disorders in order to promote the funding and use of evidence-based practices.
H.R. 5329 – Poison Center Network Enhancement Act of 2018—reauthorizes funding for the Poison Center Network, a critical network of specially trained physicians, nurses and pharmacists who answer calls and offer free, confidential, expert medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
H.R. 5353 – Eliminating Opioid Related Infectious Diseases Act of 2018—authorizes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to undertake an initiative aimed at eliminating infectious diseases spread by injection drug-use and work with states to improve education, surveillance and treatment on associated infections.
H.R. 5473 – Better Pain Management Through Better Data Act of 2018—directs the FDA to hold a public meeting and issue guidance addressing data collection and labeling for medical products that reduce pain and may replace, delay, or reduce the use of oral opioids.
H.R. 5483 – Special Registration for Telemedicine Clarification Act of 2018—requires the Department of Justice (DOJ) to allow for the prescription of medication-assisted treatment and other controlled substances via telemedicine.
H.R. 5582 – Abuse Deterrent Access Act of 2018—requires the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to report to Congress on existing barriers to access to abuse-deterrent opioid formulations by Medicare Part C and D beneficiaries.
H.R. 5583 – requires the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to expand its core set of adult health quality measures for Medicaid-eligible adults to include measures specific to behavioral health.
H.R. 5685 – Medicare Opioid Safety Education Act of 2018—directs CMS to provide education resources for beneficiaries regarding opioid use, pain management and alternative pain management treatments, and include these resources in the “Medicare and You” Handbook.
H.R. 5800 – Medicaid IMD ADDITIONAL INFO Act—requires the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission to conduct a report on the requirements, standards, and oversight that state Medicaid programs have for Medicaid Institutions for Mental Diseases.
H.R. 5812 – CONNECTIONS Act—improves information-sharing between states about prescription drugs.
S. 916 – Ensuring Patient Access to Substance Use Disorder Treatments Act of 2018—allows pharmacists to dispense treatments directly to doctors, rather than directly to patients, in an attempt to improve dispensing of implantable and injectable therapies developed to make abuse, misuse and diversion more difficult.
H.R. 4275 – Empowering Pharmacists in the Fight Against Opioid Abuse Act—requires HHS and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to develop and disseminate materials and programs for training pharmacists, health care providers and patients on indicators that a prescription is fraudulent, forged, or otherwise indicative of abuse.
H.R. 5197 – Alternatives to Opioids (ALTO) in the Emergency Department Act— establishes a demonstration program to test alternative pain management protocols to limit to the use of opioids in hospital emergency departments.
H.R. 5735 - Transitional Housing for Recovery in Viable Environments Demonstration Program (THRIVE) Act— authorizes the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to carry out a demonstration program to set aside Housing Choice Voucher Program housing for supportive and transitional housing for individuals recovering from substance use disorders.
H.R. 5788 - Securing the International Mail Against Opioids Act—requires the U.S. Postal Service to obtain advance electronic data (AED) on international mail shipments and transmit the data to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to target opioid shipments and other illegal imports into the United States.