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Opioid Crisis-Fighting Measures from Senate Judiciary Committee Become Law

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump today signed into law the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, which included seven separate bills approved earlier this year by the Senate Judiciary Committee under the leadership of Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). Each bill received bipartisan support. The newly signed law will help in the fight against the nationwide opioid epidemic and keep American communities safer and healthier. Chairman Grassley issued the following statement on the new law:
"Opioid overdose deaths are preventable, yet there are still more than 100 every day. Midwestern states like Iowa have seen opioid overdoses increase 70 percent from July 2016 to September 2017. It's a complicated problem that requires creative, comprehensive and collaborative solutions.
“Today, the President signed into law a package of those solutions. We worked hard, in a bipartisan way, to move a number of these provisions through the Senate Judiciary Committee. I’d like to thank my colleagues on both sides for their diligent work. This will build on the success of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act that I led to passage last Congress, and is another positive step forward to reduce the impact of this devastating epidemic.”
A brief description of the seven bills, which were included as part of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, follows:
S.2645 Access to Increased Drug Disposal Act of 2018
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. More information available here.
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
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. More information available here.
S.2789 Substance Abuse Prevention Act
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. More information available here.
S.207 Synthetic Abuse and Labeling of Toxic Substances Act of 2017
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. More information available here.
S.2838 Using Data to Prevent Opioid Diversion Act of 2018
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. More information available here.
S.2837 Preventing Drug Diversion Act of 2018
S.2837 will amend the Controlled Substances Act to define “suspicious order” and will require registrants to design a system to identify suspicious orders, and notify DEA of those rders. More information available here.
S.3254 Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act of 2018
S.3254 will prohibit sober home and substance abuse treatment centers, as well as their employees, from receiving or providing kickbacks for patient referrals. While this bill was referred to but not voted on in committee, Grassley worked closely with the its lead sponsor—Senator Rubio—during its formulation and helped shepherd it into the final package passed by the Senate. More information available here.
Chairman Grassley played a leading role with each bill’s chief sponsor to author them and cosponsored six of the seven. In 2016, Grassley led the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), a sweeping addiction recovery bill aimed at addressing the nation’s growing heroin and opioid addiction epidemic, through the Senate. The bill, which later became law, included a number of Grassley provisions to assist in the fight against methamphetamine.