April 29, 2016
ASA Applauds House Committee for Approving Bills to Address the Opioid Epidemic
This week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved 11 bills to address the country’s opioid abuse epidemic, including three bills supported by ASA that expand access to naloxone and allow patients to partially fill prescriptions for controlled substances— H.R. 3680, the Co-Prescribing to Reduce Overdoses Act of 2015; H.R. 4586, Lali’s Law; and H.R. 4599, the Reducing Unused Medications Act of 2016.
In a formal communication to the Committee, ASA explained that naloxone should be made more accessible to laypersons who might witness an opioid overdose, including first responders, family members and caregivers of high-risk individuals, in order to reduce the incidence of opioid overdose fatalities. ASA also noted that physicians should consider co-prescribing naloxone with an opioid for patients at high risk of overdose. Additional information on ASA’s position on naloxone is available here.
ASA also expressed support for allowing a physician or patient to request a schedule II opioid to be partially filled by a pharmacist. Permitting partially filled opioid prescriptions is one approach to decrease the amount of unused medications in the home while still allowing patients to fill the remaining prescription if necessary. The letter also stated that when a medication is partially filled, this information should be integrated into the prescription drug monitoring program to maintain consistency and reliability, and the pharmacy should inform the prescribing physician.
In addition to the bills passed out of the Energy and Commerce Committee, the House Judiciary Committee and the Education and the Workforce Committee also advanced bills to address the opioid and drug abuse epidemic.
The House bills will serve as an alternative to the Senate’s bill, S. 524, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which expands access to naloxone, establishes a Pain Management Best Practices Interagency Task Force to develop best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication, and authorizes several grant programs to expand prevention, education, and treatment efforts.
The bills voted upon and reported favorably out of the Committees will next be considered on the House floor. ASA will continue to monitor these bills and to collaborate with stakeholders to identify solutions to the prescription opioid abuse epidemic.
View all of the bills considered during the Energy and Commerce Committee mark-up
View the bills approved by the House Judiciary Committee
Learn about ASA’s involvement in the AMA Task Force to Reduce Prescription Opioid Abuse