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House Subcommittee Assesses New Opioid Legislation

Capitol Connector
Your source for the latest updates from Capitol Hill. We translate policy into practice so you can learn how policy trends will affect your work and how best to prepare.

Shelley Starkey

House Subcommittee Assesses New Opioid Legislation

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Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held its second in a series of three hearings to discuss legislative solutions to address the ongoing opioid crisis. The hearing, entitled “Combating the Opioid Crisis: Prevention and Public Health Solutions,” took place over two days, covered 25 bills, and consisted of four panels of witnesses including: federal agency heads, individuals in recovery and opioid treatment experts. The hearing demonstrates lawmakers’ continued interest in taking additional steps this year to address the opioid crisis — beyond the provisions included in the 2018 omnibus spending bill.

Throughout the two-day hearing, Subcommittee members discussed legislation that would revise patient privacy protections for addiction treatment, improve access to non-opioid alternatives, expand loan repayment programs for individuals pursuing careers in addiction treatment and improve efforts around intercepting illicit drugs entering the United States. For an extensive summary of the discussions, click here.

Meanwhile in the Senate, Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Lamar Alexander (R-TN) released two discussion draft proposals to strengthening the authority of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The first would limit opioid overprescribing by allowing the FDA to require opioids to be packaged in blister packs with set doses, and would encourage manufacturers to provide a safe way to dispose of unused medications to prevent their inappropriate use. Additionally, in line with President Trump’s desire to strengthen border security, the second proposal seeks to improve coordination between the FDA and Customs Border Protection (CBP) to limit illegal drugs entering the US.

Watch recordings of the two-day House hearing, read witness testimony, and find text of the bills discussed on the Subcommittee’s website here.