Biden Administration Outlines Drug Policy Priorities that Focus on Racial Equity and Harm Reduction

Last week, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) released a statement by the Biden-Harris Administration outlining their drug policy priorities for year one, which will largely focus on racial equity in drug policy and advancing harm-reduction efforts. According to the statement, the Administration’s seven drug policy priorities include expanding access to evidence-based treatment, advancing racial equity in drug policy, enhancing evidence-based harm reduction, supporting evidence-based prevention to reduce substance use in youths, reducing the illicit substances supply, expanding the addiction workforce and recovery-ready workplaces, and expanding access to recovery services. ONDCP also emphasized their commitment to coordination, highlighting that they will work closely with other White House offices, federal agencies, Congress, and State, local, and Tribal governments to meet their year one priorities.

Articles & Resources

The White House – The Biden-Harris Administration’s Statement of Drug Policy Priorities for Year One

Politico – Biden administration outlines drug policy priorities

FDA Announces Science Forum 2021 with a Focus Topic in Substance Use, Misuse, and Addiction

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration announced their upcoming event, FDA Science

Forum 2021: Science as the Foundation for Protecting and Promoting Public Health. The event, which will be held virtually on Wednesday and Thursday, May 26 and 27, 2021, will aim to inform the public about FDA’s novel scientific research and how it is used in driving innovation and regulatory decision-making for public health. In this year’s forum, FDA has included Substance Use, Misuse, and Addiction as one of its eight focus topic areas, and will explore how FDA considers the potential for substance misuse and addiction when evaluating regulated products. Those interested in attending the event can register here.

Articles & Resources

2021 FDA Science Forum

GAO Report Highlights the Positive Effects of State Good Samaritan and Naloxone Access Laws

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently published their Drug Misuse report to the Congressional Committees, which stemmed from a provision in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (CARA) requiring GAO to review Good Samaritan and Naloxone Access Laws. GAO examined which states and territories have Good Samaritan and Naloxone Access laws, the effects of Good Samaritan laws, and the efforts the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has taken to disseminate information on Good Samaritan and Naloxone Access laws. GAO found that 47 states and D.C. have enacted both Good Samaritan and Naloxone Access laws, Kansas, Texas and Wyoming only have Naloxone Access laws, and five U.S. territories do not have any Good Samaritan or Naloxone Access laws in place. They also conducted literature reviews of studies examining the laws’ effectiveness and ONCDP documents and found that, while there were lower rates of overdose deaths in states with Good Samaritan laws, awareness of Good Samaritan laws varied across states and territories.

Articles & Resources

Full GAO Report

Bicameral Bill Reintroduced to Close Loophole Making Prosecuting Crimes Involving Synthetic Opioids Difficult

Last week, Representative Scott Fitzgerald (R-WI-5) and Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) reintroduced the Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues (SOFA) Act, which would provide the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) tools to schedule new fentanyl analogues as they are identified, and would also immediately classify certain fentanyl analogues as Schedule 1 drugs. In a press release, Representative Fitzgerald said, “as a Wisconsin State Senator, I worked to unanimously pass fentanyl scheduling legislation, and I am proud to now introduce the SOFA Act as a Congressman alongside Senator Johnson. Too many families have lost loved ones to drug overdoses, this legislation plays a critically important role in ending the abuse of this often life-destroying substance.” Senator Johnson added, “families throughout Wisconsin and America have been devastated by the epidemic of opioid overdoses. The SOFA Act will close a deadly loophole in current law that is being exploited by illegal drug manufacturers. The bill gives law enforcement the tools to quickly schedule fentanyl analogues as they are identified, hopefully saving lives.” This bill was previously introduced in the Senate during the 116th Congress.

Articles & Resources

Representative Scott Fitzgerald – Fitzgerald, Johnson Introduce SOFA Act to Combat Opioid Epidemic

S.1622 – Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues Act

CDC Adds SUDs to List of Underlying Medical Conditions Associated with High Risk for Severe COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently added substance use disorders (SUD), including alcohol, opioid and cocaine use disorders, to their list of underlying medical conditions that can make an adult more likely to get severely ill from the COVID-19 virus. The decision to add SUDs was based on a comprehensive evidence review process, which included analyzing publications, scientific articles, journal pre-prints, and internal CDC data on substance use disorders from December 1, 2019, and January 2021. During a White House press briefing on the COVID-19 response, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said “This update is keeping up with my commitment to lead with science, to have clear information on our website, and to better describe the science underlying these conditions.”

Articles & Resources

CDC – People with Certain Medical Conditions

CDC – Scientific Evidence for Conditions that Increase Risk of Severe Illness

The White House – Press Briefing by White House COVID-19 Response Team and Public Health Officials

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

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality – Improving Pain Management in the Context of America’s Opioid and Substance Use Disorders Crisis

American Association for Respiratory Care – Opioids and Bankruptcy

NPR – As U.S. Corporations Face Reckoning Over Prescription Opioids, CEOs Keep Cashing In

NPR – Drug Overdose Deaths Spiked To 88,000 During The Pandemic, White House Says

Pediatrics – Current Prescription Opioid Misuse and Suicide Risk Behaviors Among High School Students

Penn Medicine News – Text Message Program Shows 60 Percent of Opioid Tablets Unused After Common Procedures

Roll Call – We can’t wait for the pandemic to end to fight the opioid overdose surge

Senator Angus King – With Maine Overdoses on the Rise, King Seeks New Leadership at FDA to Combat Opioid Epidemic

The Economist – Opioid deaths in America reached new highs in the pandemic

The Hill – From one ‘big house’ to another: DOJ must hold the leaders of Purdue Pharma accountable

The Verge – YouTube is relaxing some rules about ads on drug-related videos

The Washington Post – The Daily 202: Ohio Gov. DeWine hopes Biden will push China on fentanyl

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut – New Britain Man Sentenced to 3 Years in Federal Prison for Selling Fentanyl and Crack

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut – Stratford Man Pleads Guilty to Fentanyl Distribution and Gun Possession Offenses

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho – Acting U.S. Attorney Addresses Increasing Danger of Counterfeit Prescription Opioids

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Hampshire – Manchester Man Indicted for Fentanyl Trafficking and Maintaining a Drug-Involved Premises

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California – Fresno Man Charged with Fentanyl Trafficking and Illegal Firearm Possession

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia – Delaware man admits to role in drug trafficking enterprise

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Indiana – Columbus Area Drug Trafficking Organization Disrupted

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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