The Senate Health Committee this week unanimously voted to report S.2680, the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018, to the full Senate. The bill, jointly sponsored by Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray, includes measures intended to make it easier to prescribe smaller packs of opioids for limited durations, spur the development of non-addictive painkillers, and bolster the detection of illegal drugs at the border.
The legislation includes measures aimed at helping specific agencies and departments address the crisis. It clarifies the Food and Drug Administration’s authority to require that drug manufacturers package painkillers in smaller packs, such as a seven- or three-day supply, with the hope of helping to curb overprescribing. It also clarifies the regulatory path to create non-addictive drugs to help with pain. The bill proposes specifics with regard to how opioid grants may be provided, boosting the allotments for states where the epidemic has hit the hardest. The proposed Senate version would let states use the funding they receive until it runs out, rather than mandating it be spent during that year.
In response to actions by some states to implement limits on the length and dosage of opioid prescriptions, the proposed legislation calls for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to issue a report on the impact of these laws. The bill seeks to: improve access to telemedicine; enhance access to treatment in underserved areas; and encourage states to share data on opioid prescribing and dispensing.
Chairman Alexander has said he hopes to mark up the proposed legislation this spring, while, on the House side, the House Energy and Commerce Committee anticipates reporting its version before the Memorial Day recess.
Contact: Jon Moran, Senior Legislative Analyst, firstname.lastname@example.org, 609-695-3481, x121.