September 17, 2018

Senate Passes Bill to Hold Drug Makers Accountable for Preventing Suspicious Orders

Washington—The Senate today passed the Using Data to Prevent Opioid Diversion Act, authored by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), that will prevent drug distributors and manufacturers from delivering millions of opioids to a single pharmacy.

The bill will assist drug manufacturers and distributors to better identify suspicious orders of opioids and will allow law enforcement agencies to hold manufacturers and distributors accountable if they fail to identify, report and stop suspicious orders of opioids.

            “Drug addiction and overdose deaths have reached crisis levels and are having a devastating impact on our country,” Feinstein said. “We must do more to stop the diversion of prescription opioids from legitimate medical treatment. It is not acceptable for drug manufacturers and distributors to deliver 9 million pills to a single pharmacy in a town of 392 people over a one year period, as happened in West Virginia.

            “Giving drug manufacturers and distributors information on pharmacies’ ordering behavior and holding them accountable when they fail to identify, stop and report suspicious orders of opioids will help reduce the number of opioids available to be diverted and abused, and ultimately, the number of opioid overdose deaths.” 

Background:

            Between 2006 and 2016, nearly 21 million opioids were distributed to two pharmacies in Williamson, W. Va., which has a population under 3,000. These powerful opioids were delivered despite requirements on opioid manufacturers and distributors to detect and disclose suspicious orders to the Drug Enforcement Administration and keep complete and accurate records relating to the sale, delivery or disposal of opioids.

            While required by law to provide this information, once reported, the DEA is not required to disclose to opioid manufacturers and distributors the total number of distributors serving a single pharmacy or practitioner, or the total quantity and type of opioids being distributed. This impedes awareness of how many drugs are entering a community.

            The Using Data to Prevent Opioid Diversion Act was passed as part of the Opioid Crisis Response Act, a comprehensive package of bills to battle this epidemic that was cosponsored by Feinstein. Also cosponsored by Feinstein were the Substance Abuse Prevention Act, the Opioid Quota Reform Act, the Synthetic Abuse and Labeling of Toxic Substances Act and Jessie's Law, all of which were included in the opioid package.

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