The United States House of Representatives unanimously approved three bills today introduced by Congressman Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-Ga.) as part of his ongoing efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. Carter is the only pharmacist currently serving in the U.S. Congress.
“We are losing 115 Americans a day from an opioid overdose,” said Carter. “We cannot sit idly by as this epidemic takes more parents, sons, daughters, friends and neighbors. It is plaguing our nation and no community is safe. These bills work to provide important tools to combat this crisis and I thank my colleagues in the House for approving them today. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to consider these bills as soon as possible.”
The House passed three bills introduced by Carter including:
- The Special Registration for Telemedicine Clarification Act. Currently, federal law prohibits a medical practitioner from dispensing controlled substances through the internet without first evaluating the patient in-person. This legislation, the Special Registration for Telemedicine Clarification Act, instructs the Attorney General to take the necessary steps to allow for the prescription of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and other controlled substances via telemedicine. It requires a special registration to connect patients with the treatment they need without risking important safeguards to prevent misuse or diversion.
- The Abuse Deterrent Access Act. Abuse deterrent formulations (ADFs) represent a breakthrough technology that helps prevent the crushing, snorting, and injection of painkillers. Currently, many prescription drug plans present access barriers for chronic pain patients to ADFs including cost-sharing tiers, fail-first requirements, and prior authorization requirements. Instead of receiving ADFs, often patients are limited to using traditional opioids that can be easily diverted, crushed, snorted, and injected. Carter’s legislation, the Abuse Deterrent Access Act of 2018, directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct a study on barriers to accessing abuse deterrent opioid formulations for chronic pain patients enrolled in Medicare.
- The Empowering Pharmacists in the Fight Against Opioid Abuse Act introduced with Representative Mark DeSaulnier (D-Ca.). This legislation would require federal agencies to develop and distribute materials to better educate pharmacists on when they are allowed by law to decline to fill a prescription for a controlled substance. These circumstances include the suspicion of fraud, forgery, or other forms of alteration.
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