April 26, 2018
Senate Committee Advances Opioid Legislation
On Tuesday, April 24, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee advanced S. 2680, the Opioid Crisis Response Act, legislation to address the opioid abuse epidemic. ASA is pleased that many of the provisions in the bill will address the opioid crisis. ASA is particularly pleased with the inclusion of Section 403 in the bill, which provides important federal support for alternative pain management models of care. ASA anticipates this could be a potential mechanism to support opioid sparing initiatives in the perioperative setting, such as the ASA-Premier Safer Post-Operative Pain Management Reducing Opioid Related Harm Pilot, Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocols and the Perioperative Surgical Home (PSH) model.
ASA not only submitted comments on the draft bill but also commented on the legislation when it was introduced, applauding the bipartisan efforts and offering some modifications to strengthen the bill. In ASA’s letter to the Committee on April 20, ASA commended the Committee for its work on S. 2680. The Opioid Crisis Response Act is a package of 40 bills from 38 Senators, all with various provisions related to addressing opioid misuse.
The Opioid Crisis Responses Act also included provisions granting the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) additional authority with regard to opioid manufacturing, packaging and disposal, and also provided FDA more authority and resources for surveillance of important illicit opioids in international mail facilities. The legislation was amended by voice vote to include two medication-assisted treatment (MAT) provisions. In its letter, ASA also commented on its concern about blister packs for controlled substances, as well as support for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as the lead agency for a study on prescriber limits. Key ASA-supported provisions include programs supporting alternatives to opioids, granting the NIH Director more flexibility to direct funds pain research and the development of non-opioid alternatives, an education and training program in pain care, as well as support to improve prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP’s), among other things.
Earlier in April, ASA, as part of the Pain Care Coalition (PCC), offered formal comments on the proposed legislation, focusing on improvements that could be made. ASA is pleased some of these changes are reflected in the final bill, S. 2680.
The Committee-passed package is next expected to be merged with proposals from other Senate Committees before going to the Senate Floor for a vote. ASA will continue to monitor Congressional and Administration efforts to address the opioid abuse epidemic.