//Isakson Urges Swift Senate Action on Legislation to Fight Opioid Crisis

Isakson Urges Swift Senate Action on Legislation to Fight Opioid Crisis

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From the Office of U.S. Senator Isakson:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., urged swift action by the full Senate after the health committee passed legislation he cosponsored to help fight the opioid epidemic and improve the federal government’s response to this crisis.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions unanimously passed the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018, S.2680, on Tuesday, less than a week after it was introduced in the Senate.

The legislation would facilitate greater communication and improve data sharing across government agencies involved in responding to the opioid epidemic.

“I’m glad the Senate is working together to pass legislation that will help treat addiction and fight the opioid epidemic that has harmed so many families, including my own,” said Isakson, referring to the 2016 death of a grandson“We can and should do more to help folks get the treatment they need to cure addiction and fight back against stigma wherever possible. I urge the Senate to move quickly on this legislation.” 

The Opioid Crisis Response Act was developed based on months of expert testimony in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Isakson, a member of the committee, and his colleagues worked to find ways to improve the federal response to the opioid crisis and help prevent more Americans from succumbing to the epidemic.

Also included in the final legislation passed by the committee were additional amendments that would expand access to medication-assisted treatment and would fund “peer support” approaches to treatment. Peer -support models enlist the help of people who have recovered from substance abuse addictions to come alongside those who are entering recovery.

A few key provision in the legislation include:

  • Spurs development of non-addictive painkillers as well as other strategies to prevent, treat and manage pain by providing additional flexibility for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • Encourages responsible drug-prescribing behavior by clarifying existing FDA authority and requiring manufacturers to give patients simple and safe options to dispose of unused opioids.
  • Authorizes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) based in Atlanta to expand its work to combat the opioids crisis, including providing grants for states, localities and tribes to collect data and implement key prevention strategies.
  • Seeks to improve detection and seizure of illegal drugs, such as fentanyl, through stronger FDA and Customer Border Protection coordination. It also provides support for states to improve their Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs and encourages data sharing between states so doctors and pharmacies can know if patients have a history of substance misuse.
  • Strengthens the health care workforce to increase access to mental health services in schools and provide substance abuse treatment in underserved areas.

Also included in the final legislation passed by the committee were additional amendments that would expand access to medication-assisted treatment and would fund “peer support” approaches to treatment. Peer-support models enlist the help of people who have recovered from substance abuse addictions to come alongside those who are entering recovery.

The bipartisan Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 was introduced by U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, along with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the committee’s leading Democrat.

The full text of the legislation can be found here.