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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Mental Wellbeing

New Bill Authorizes Grants to Combat Prescription Drug Abuse

October 7, 2014 | Addictions | Comments
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New legislation introduced in Congress would offer a number of grants to deter prescription drug abuse and assist individuals receiving addiction treatment.  Authored by Reps. Bill Foster (D-IL) and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), the Opioid Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (H.R. 5587) would:

  • Create a one-year pilot program for states to analyze prescribing behavior and share information about questionable or inappropriate prescribing and pharmacy dispensing patterns;
  • Award five-year grants to eligible entities to train more personnel to increase patient screening, brief interventions and referral to treatment to prevent abuse. Eligible entities include: states, physician professional associations, continuing education entities, peer recovery organizations and “other appropriate” health or professional education organizations;
  • Require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct a review to determine whether naloxone should be available as an over-the-counter drug. The bill would also provide grants to study the prospect of allowing prescribing authority to advanced practice nurses and physician assistants to treat addiction recovery;
  • Encourage states and local governments to implement and increase drug take-back program to allow people to dispose of unused prescription drugs.

With recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing rising death rates from heroin overdoses, the bill’s authors said their legislation would help reduce the impact of the opioid epidemic. “Easy access to prescription drugs is leading too many young people down the path of addiction and opening the door to abuse of other opioids like heroin. Families are being torn apart, and lives are being ruined. We must do more to combat prescription drug abuse and increase access to life saving drugs like Naloxone,” said Foster.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2013 an estimated 2.8 million people age 12 or older used an illicit drug for the first time, totaling more than 7,800 initiates per day.

Representatives Donna Edwards (D-MD), Elizabeth Esty (D-CT), Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) are original cosponsors of the Opioid Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act.