Bipartisan Lawmakers Create Addiction and Mental Health Task Force

Last week, Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA-03), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-08), Annie Kuster (D-NH-02), and David Trone (D-MD0-6) have created the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force to focus on progressing addiction and mental health policies during the 117th Congress. In addition to developing policies, the new task force will also host stakeholder meetings and attend site visits to better understand the current state of addiction and mental health and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on these public health issues. In a press release, Representative Kuster said, “Addiction and mental health are intrinsically linked, and our new Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force will allow us to meet the moment and focus on holistic solutions for addiction and co-occurring illnesses. The health and economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has created new barriers for Americans seeking treatment for mental health disorders and addiction, and the worry and additional stress it has caused is creating new mental health challenges for countless people across the nation.” Representative Fitzpatrick added, “The pandemic has created new barriers for our citizens with pre-existing mental illnesses and substance use disorders and generated new issues for our citizens previously unaffected. Our bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force team is ready to educate, raise awareness, and take immediate action to provide support and hope to the millions of struggling people across our country.” The task force merges the Bipartisan Opioid Task Force, founded by Representative Kuster in 2015, and the Freshmen Working Group on Addiction created by Representative Trone in 2019.

Articles & Resources

Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler – Rep. Herrera Beutler Helps Launch Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force

Representative Brian Fitzpatrick  – Fitzpatrick, Kuster, Trone and Herrera Beutler Announce Creation of the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force

Representative Annie Kuster – Kuster, Trone, Fitzpatrick, and Herrera Beutler Announce Creation of the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force

Representative David Trone  – Reps. Trone, Kuster, Fitzpatrick, and Herrera Beutler Announce Creation of the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force

Bill Introduced Will Permanently List Fentanyl Analogs as Schedule I Controlled Substances

Last week, Representatives Steve Chabot (R-OH-01) and Bob Latta (R-OH-05) introduced the Federal Initiative to Guarantee Health by Targeting (FIGHT) Fentanyl Act, which would update the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) temporary scheduling of fentanyl analogs by permanently list all fentanyl drugs and analogs as schedule I controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act. The new legislation would eliminate the need for Congress to grant temporary extensions and will allow the DEA to criminalize the manufacturing, distribution, and possession of fentanyl drugs. In a press release, Representative Latta said, “If we don’t act together now to fight fentanyl, we will continue to see thousands of Americans lose their lives for years to come. The FIGHT Fentanyl Act permanently lists fentanyl as a schedule I controlled substance so that we can better prevent fentanyl from destroying and taking even more American lives. I am encouraged this bill builds on previous work in Congress to stop the spread of fentanyl in our communities.” Representative Chabot added, “One of the most dangerous opioids on the streets is fentanyl, with thousands of overdose deaths every year attributed to fentanyl and fentanyl-related drugs. Our legislation will permanently provide the DEA the ability to fight the production, importation and distribution of fentanyl analogs, which will help to keep these dangerous drugs off the streets and reduce overdose deaths across the country.”

Articles & Resources

Representative Bob Latta – Latta, Chabot Introduce the FIGHT Fentanyl Act

Representative Steve Chabot – Chabot, Latta Introduce the FIGHT Fentanyl Act

H.R.1910 – To amend the Controlled Substances Act to list fentanyl-related substances as schedule I controlled substances.

Measure Reintroduced to Require Prescribers to Complete SUD Treatment Training

Last week, Representatives David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-WV-01) and Lori Trahan (D-MA-03) reintroduced the Medication Access and Training Expansion (MATE) Act, which would require all DEA controlled substance prescribers, who are not already addiction specialists, to dedicate at least eight hours of training on treating patients with opioid or substance use disorder (SUD). The bill would also require certain professional schools to incorporate addiction medicine education to their curricula and would authorize the federal government to provide grants to schools to develop trainings and curricula for prescribers on how to identify and treat SUDs. In a press release, Representative McKinley said, “Ensuring that physicians and other prescribers have the tools and knowledge available to them to identify and create an effective treatment course for patients with substance use disorder is critical to getting the opioid crisis under control.” Representative Trahan added, “Congress has an obligation undertake a holistic approach to ending the addiction crisis that has taken far too many lives already. That can’t happen without understanding addiction’s root causes and the stigma associated with seeking out help. The MATE Act will ensure that medical professionals across the nation have standardized training that not only ensures a strong understanding of addiction, but also gives them the tools necessary to identify, treat, and manage patients with substance use disorders.” This bill was previously introduced in the House during the 116th Congress.

Articles & Resources

Representative David B. McKinley, P.E. – McKinley Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Combat Prescription Opioid Abuse

Representative Lori Trahan – Trahan Leads Reintroduction of Bipartisan Legislation to Tackle Root Causes of Addiction Crisis

H.R.4974 – MATE Act of 2019

FDA GDUFA Report Highlights Research Activities for Abuse-Deterrent Opioid Products

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently published their FY2020 Generic Drug User Fee Amendments (GDUFA) Science and Research Report highlighting FDA funded research activities and their outcomes in 13 research focus areas, including enhancing the agency’s assessment of abuse-deterrent (AD) formulations of opioid drug products. As summarized in the report, FDA’s clinical studies in FY2020 have centered on evaluating an opioid agonist and antagonist combination product to inform product-specific guidance (PSG) recommendations, evaluating the similarities of AD and non-AD products and the utility of administration methods, evaluating the shelf-life stability of AD properties, and understanding safety risk of opioid products used via non-intended routes. In a joint message, Director of the Office of Generic Drugs (OGD) Sally Choe and Director of the Office of Pharmaceutical Quality (OPQ) Michael Kopcha noted, “The GDUFA Science and Research program supports the development of additional innovative methodologies and more efficient tools to help establish drug equivalence standards and support the development of, and access to, safe, effective, and high-quality generic drug products for the American public.”

Articles & Resources

FDA – Joint Directors’ Message

FY2020 GDUFA Science and Research Report

Senate Confirms Xavier Becerra as HHS Secretary

On March 18th, the United States Senate confirmed California Attorney General Xavier Becerra for Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in a 50-49 vote. Leading up to the vote, Becerra met with more than 40 senators from both parties, to answer additional questions and address concerns. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) noted that Becerra’s commitment to addressing opioid addiction and other issues relevant to their states influenced their decision to vote in favor of confirmation.

Articles & Resources

Politico – Senate narrowly confirms Becerra as health secretary

The New York Times – Senate confirms Xavier Becerra as the secretary of health and human services

What We Read Last Week

Several articles were published last week pertaining to the opioid epidemic, covering a variety of different components of the issue. Links to relevant articles are provided below.

Articles & Resources

AEI – What it’s like to treat opioid addiction in Appalachia

American Heart Association – More heart infections and strokes in the U.S. linked to national opioid epidemic

American Pharmacist Association – APhA House of Delegates debates health inequities, harassment, national pharmacy organization unity

Bloomberg Government – Arkansas Attorney General Sues Walgreens Over Opioid Crisis

Bloomberg Government – Teva, Purdue, Other Opioid Makers Head to California Trial

Congressman Mike Turner – Congressman Turner and Dayton Area Leaders Hold Roundtable to Discuss Efforts to Combat the Opioid Epidemic

Digital Citizen’s Alliance – Report: Illegal and/or Illicit Activity On Social Media Platforms Never Goes Away

Duke University Research Blog – Centering Patients and Expanding Access in the Opioid Epidemic

Forbes – People With Chronic Pain Are Claiming A Voice In The Opioids Crisis

Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts – FORE Announces Grants Totaling $1.3 Million to Assess Impact of COVID-19 on Opioid Use Disorder Treatment and Equity

Insider – Opioid overdoses in the US are surging, and it’s hitting the people most vulnerable to the pandemic

JAMA – New WHO Guideline for Treating Chronic Pain in Children

Law360 – Calif. Must Share Rx Data With Walgreens In Opioid Row

Law360 – McKinsey Opioid Deal With NY AG Approved Amid Objections

Law360 – Purdue Files Ch. 11 Plan That Draws Criticism From State AGs

Medium – Opioids. Everything you need to know about America’s Most Lethal Drugs. – EMS leave behind program expanding since launch six months ago

NBC News – Latinos grapple with opioid overdose rise as pandemic triggers surge in U.S. use

NPR – Purdue Pharma Offers Restructuring Plan, Sackler Family Would Give Up Ownership

Penn Today – Infants experiencing opioid withdrawal more often treated in poorer quality hospitals

Politico – How the bitter political fight over painkillers could derail Biden’s FDA pick

RAND – The Evolving Consequences of OxyContin Reformulation on Drug Overdoses

Representative David Trone – Trone Urges DOJ to Increase Transparency Ahead of Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing on the Bureau of Prisons’ Pandemic Response

Rockefeller Institute – Learning from Lived Experience: A Conversation with Nabarun Dasgupta

Roll Call – House reshapes approach to mental health and addiction

Senator Brian Schatz – Schatz, Blumenthal Urge Attorney General To Investigate McKinsey’s Role In Fueling Opioid Epidemic

The Washington Post – Manchin ally emerges as a frontrunner to be Biden’s ‘drug czar’

The Washington Post – Sacklers offer $1.5 billion more than planned to settle thousands of opioid lawsuits

The Washington Post – The Technology 202: Researchers say it’s easy to find drugs on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland – 29 Alleged Penn North Drug Dealers Facing Federal Indictments

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada – Las Vegas Felon Sentenced To Prison For Selling Oxycodone Pills And Possessing Two Loaded Firearms

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Hampshire – Rochester Man Pleads Guilty to Participating in Fentanyl Trafficking Conspiracy

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California – Placer County Man Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison for a Fentanyl Trafficking Conspiracy

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan – Pharmacist and Pharmacy Technician Charged in a $1.2 Million Illegal Opioid Distribution Conspiracy

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida – Cocoa Man Sentenced To More Than Six Years In Federal Prison For Conspiracy To Possess With Intent To Distribute Fentanyl

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida – Florida Man Sentenced To 10 Years For Distributing Fentanyl

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida – Florida Man Sentenced To 10 Years For Distributing Fentanyl

This Week’s Calendar

In the week ahead, there are no relevant events or hearings noticed at this time. In the event that there are any changes to the schedule for this week, we will make additional information available.

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