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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

House Passes Bill to Improve Law Enforcement Response to Opioid Abuse

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Legislation passed last week by the House would require the Obama Administration to issue a report on the current state of patients’ access to prescription opioid painkillers and how to improve law enforcement responses to opioid abuse, misuse and diversion. The report must evaluate:

  • Obstacles to legitimate patient access to prescription painkillers;
  • Issues with diversion of prescription painkillers to illegal use; and
  • How collaboration between government entities, law enforcement agencies, and industry groups can benefit patients and prevent diversion and abuse of prescription opioids.

Under the bill, known as the “Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2014” (H.R. 4709), federal regulators would have greater authority to revoke permission for companies to sell or manufacture certain controlled substances such as opioids. In addition, it would allow distributors and manufacturers to submit corrective action plans prior to having their controlled substance registration revoked.

The legislation passed on a voice vote in the House, a procedural move for bills with unanimous or near-unanimous support. It has been referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, where it awaits further action. The text of the legislation is available here.