Press Releases

Roe, Kuster, MacArthur Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Manage Opioid Prescribing

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Washington, October 6, 2017 | Lani Short (202-225-6356) | comments

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, Reps. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.), Annie Kuster (D-N.H.) and Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) introduced the Opioid Addiction and Prevention Act of 2017, legislation to limit initial post-acute care opioid prescribing to ten days. The legislation would not preempt state law in states that have more limited timeframes for these prescriptions and would not have any impact on patients who utilize opioids for the regular management of chronic pain.

The members released the following statements:

“The opioid epidemic is devastating communities across the United States, including my home state of Tennessee, with more people dying from opioid overdoses than car wrecks,” said Roe. “As a physician, I am keenly aware that patients may need pain medication following a medical procedure or hospital stay, but patients experiencing intense pain that lasts ten days should be evaluated further by their physician. The reality is too many people become addicted to these drugs because their initial prescriptions keep them on these drugs longer than necessary. Furthermore, excess unused prescriptions too often end up as a supply source for addicts, including family members. This commonsense bill will ensure any patient prescribed opioids after receiving post-acute medical attention will have the close provider supervision required to ensure the responsible management of pain during their recovery. This legislation will help curb the opioid epidemic and will not have any impact on patients who are prescribed opioids for chronic pain, cancer care or end-of-life treatments.”

“The opioid epidemic is having a serious impact on communities in New Hampshire and across the country,” said Kuster. “It is clear that the historic rise of opioid addiction in America was fueled in part by the excessive prescription of opioids drugs. While seeking to relieve patients of their pain after surgery or other procedures is well-intentioned, it is troubling that Americans consume about 80% of the world’s supply of opioid medications. This legislation would address the crisis by encouraging prescribers to provide, when appropriate, non-opioid alternatives prior to opioid medications, and if patients are to receive opioids, they will only receive a dosage and amount necessary to relieve their pain. We need to overcome the prescription opioid crisis, in order to overcome this public health emergency.”

“Drug addiction has impacted so many families in New Jersey and in many communities across the country,” said MacArthur. “For far too many Americans, this addiction is starting not on the streets, but in the medicine cabinet. This legislation will ensure that prescribers limit the initial supply of addictive opioids in order to prevent prescription drug abuse and combat the opioid epidemic. The drug crisis is too big for any of us to fight on our own. We need everyone—federal and local government, members of our communities, and medical professionals working together to overcome this epidemic.”   

Background: A March 2017 article from the Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that there is a sharp increase in the likelihood a patient would use opioids long-term in the first days of prescribing, particularly after five days. A recent Washington Post story found that at least 17 states have taken steps to limit opioid prescribing, many of which limited the prescribing window to five to seven days. This legislation would not impact these existing state laws. 

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