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Alexander: Senate Agrees to Vote Next Week on “The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018”

Package includes over 70 proposals from five Senate committees

WASHINGTON, September 6, 2018 — The Senate agreed today to vote next week on the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018—a bipartisan package of over 70 proposals recommended to the full Senate by five committees: Health, Finance, Judiciary, Commerce and Banking.

Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said: “This legislation represents the work of over 70 senators, five committees, and countless staff who have worked together to help put an end to the opioid epidemic ravaging virtually every American community. The proposed bill includes the STOP Act to help stop illegal drugs at the border, including stopping the shipment of synthetic opioids. It allows the FDA to require prescription opioids to be packaged in set amounts like a 3 or 7 day supply of blister packs, and spurs the development of a new non-addictive painkiller. The House has already passed its version of the act, and there is a bipartisan urgency to work with our House colleagues to get the legislation to the President’s desk.”

The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 will:

  • Reduce Use and Supply.

The legislation includes the STOP Act which will help stop illegal drugs at the border, as well as provisions that provide flexible grants for states to better share Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs data, clarify FDA authority to require set packaging for prescription opioids, such as a 3 or 7 day supply in a blister pack, and fight opioid diversion.

  • Encourage Recovery.

The legislation includes provisions to support states and Indian tribes in addressing substance use disorders, establish comprehensive opioid recovery centers, expand access to medication-assisted treatment, and improve community support, access to health professionals, tele-health services and long-distance care, and recovery housing services. 

  • Support Caregivers and Families.

The legislation includes provisions to improve plans of safe care and support for substance-exposed babies and their mothers, promote family-focused treatment and recovery, help youth with substance use disorders recover, and strengthen trauma-informed care and support in schools and early childhood education programs.

  • Drive Innovation and Long-Term Solutions.

The legislation includes provisions to advance cutting-edge research to spur discovery and development of new non-addictive painkillers, address economic and workforce impacts of the opioid crisis, ensure parity in mental health and substance use disorder benefits, and improve pain management.

The Omnibus Appropriations bill enacted in March provided $4.7 billion directed towards the opioid crisis, including $1 billion for grants to states.

A section by section of The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 is here.