WASHINGTON – Today the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bipartisan, bicameral opioid package designed to combat the opioid epidemic. Included in the package are three bills introduced by Congressman Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-Ga.) as part of his ongoing efforts to end the epidemic.
“We are losing 115 Americans every day to the opioid crisis,” said Carter. “As a pharmacist, I viewed addressing prescription drug abuse as part of my professional duty and I have continued this work in Congress. I am proud to have worked with my colleagues in the Energy and Commerce Committee to provide these solutions to address prevention, treatment and recovery of opioid addiction and abuse. While this is not the end of this fight, passage of this bipartisan and bicameral package is a strong step forward.”
The House passed the bicameral agreement on H.R. 6, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act today with Carter’s support. The legislation works to combat the opioid crisis by addressing prevention, advancing treatment and recovery initiatives, and improving efforts to fight illicit synthetic drugs like fentanyl.
The package includes three bills introduced by Carter:
- 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.