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Judiciary Committee Approves Five Measures to Combat Opioid Crisis

WASHINGTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, this morning approved five pieces of legislation that will address the national opioid crisis. Chairman Grassley released the following statement. A brief description of each approved bill follows.
“Today, we took several steps forward in beating back the opioid epidemic. It’s a crisis that touches families and communities across this country. From California to the Carolinas to my home state of Iowa, we have seen the devastating results of abusing illegal and prescription opioids, heroin or fentanyl.
“Each of the measures we approved today will help curb opioid abuse and its tragic consequences. As a cosponsor of five of these bills, I’ve been glad to work with my colleagues to address this mounting problem. Our work is not yet done, and I look forward to continued bipartisan cooperation to enact these measures and continue combatting this epidemic.” Grassley said.
S.2645 Access to Increased Drug Disposal Act of 2018 (Ernst, Grassley, Blumenthal)
S.2645 will encourage increased participation of authorized collectors in drug take back programs by awarding grants to states. It will focus particular attention on states within the lowest quartile of participation in take back programs.
See also: Drug take back programs can fight the growth of opioid addiction (Op-Ed in the Iowa City Press-Citizen)
S.2535 Opioid Quota Reform Act (Durbin, Kennedy, Grassley, Feinstein)
S.2535 will empower the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to consider additional factors when setting annual quotas for opioid drug production in the United States. Currently, DEA can only consider past sales and estimated demand. This bill allows the agency to take into account diversion, abuse, overdose deaths and public health impacts when setting quotas.
S.2789 Substance Abuse Prevention Act (Cornyn, Feinstein, Tillis, Klobuchar, Blumenthal, Grassley)
S.2789 will reauthorize the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), keeping the Drug-Free Communities (DFC) and High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) programs within that office. It will also boost public awareness of opioid and heroin addiction as authorized under the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA); provide resources for families to stay together when one is battling substance abuse; and require the Attorney General and the Dept. of Health and Human Services to complete a plan for educating and training health care providers in best practices for prescribing controlled substances.
S.207 Synthetic Abuse and Labeling of Toxic Substances Act of 2017 (Klobuchar, Graham, Feinstein, Grassley, Whitehouse, Cornyn, Blumenthal, Tillis, Warner, Hatch, Hassan, Rubio, Markey, Kennedy, Smith)
S.207 will close a legal loophole that inhibits the prosecution of opioid analogue traffickers by clarifying when a controlled substance analogue is or is not intended for human consumption.
S.2838 Using Data to Prevent Opioid Diversion Act of 2018 (Feinstein, Grassley, Capito, Durbin)
S.2838 will require DEA to use anonymized data to track and prevent the diversion of prescription opioids into illegal sales. The data will be available to registrants, and will include the total number of distributors serving a single pharmacy or practitioner and the total number of opioid pills distributed to a single pharmacy or practitioner.
Each bill was reported favorably to the full Senate by a voice vote. Full results of today’s Senate Judiciary Committee executive business meeting can be found HERE.
An additional piece of legislation, S.2837 the Preventing Drug Diversion Act of 2018, was held over for consideration at the next executive business meeting. It is sponsored by Sens. Hassan and Grassley. That bill will amend the Controlled Substances Act to define “suspicious order” to include unusually sized orders, orders that deviate substantially from a normal pattern, orders of unusual frequency and orders that meet other criteria set by the Attorney General.