DEA National Take Back Day Scheduled for April 24

The Drug Enforcement Administration has announced that their annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day will take place on April 24. The annual event provides the public with a safe and convenient way to dispose of prescription drugs, and provides education opportunities about medication abuse. During the 2020 Take Back Day, the DEA and law enforcement partners hosted over 4,500 collection sites and collected over 980,000 pounds of prescription drugs.

Articles & Resources

Take Back Day Collection Site Locator

Take Back Day Partnership Toolbox

New CDC Data Show Rise in Overdose Deaths During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Preliminary data on drug overdose death counts released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics show that more than 87,000 Americans died from drug overdoses during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The data show that there was a 29 percent increase in overdose deaths during October 2019 to September 2020 compared to the previous 12-month period, and that the largest increase in deaths occurred April and May 2020. According to National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Nora Volkow, the main driver for the overdose deaths was synthetic opioids and illegally manufactured fentanyl, and the highest increase in mortality was among Black Americans.

Articles & Resources

CDC – Provisional Drug Overdose Death Counts

The New York Times – Overdose Deaths Have Surged During the Pandemic, C.D.C. Data Shows

House Energy and Commerce Committee Considers 11 Bills to Address the Opioid Epidemic

On April 14, the House Subcommittee on Health of the Committee on Energy and Commerce held a legislative hearing entitled “An Epidemic within a Pandemic: Understanding Substance Use and Misuse in America” to consider 11 pieces of opioid-related legislation. The hearing also featured remarks from Acting Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Regina M. LaBelle and a panel of healthcare providers, public health experts, criminal justice advocates, and federal law enforcement officials. In his opening remarks, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) said, “we have considered some of these policies before and they remain a critical component of a comprehensive response to the crisis. Other policies are a result of the emerging data and rising threat of illicit fentanyl. We must continue to work in a bipartisan fashion to combat this epidemic as millions of lives depend on it. I commend the sponsors of these bills for their leadership and look forward to our continued work in addressing this devastating epidemic in the months ahead.” Key documents, legislations under consideration, and a recording of the hearing can be found here.

Articles & Resources

House Committee on Energy & Commerce – Hearing on “An Epidemic within a Pandemic: Understanding Substance Use and Misuse in America”

GAO Report Highlights Considerations for the Scheduling of Fentanyl-Related Substances

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently published their Synthetic Opioids report to the Congressional Committees. The report stemmed from a provision in the Temporary Reauthorization and Study of the Emergency Scheduling of Fentanyl Analogues Act requiring GAO to examine the possible considerations for the classification and scheduling of fentanyl-related substances when the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) temporary classification of these substances as Schedule I under the Controlled Substances Act expires on May 6th. GAO conducted multi-stakeholder interviews with research, state and local law enforcement, civil rights, criminal justice, industry, and international organization representatives, and analyzed data from federal agencies involved in the regulation and control of fentanyl-related substances. The GAO report outlines the potential effects of allowing the temporary scheduling order to expire, scheduling fentanyl analogues as a class without modifications, and legislatively scheduling fentanyl analogues as a class with modifications.

Articles & Resources

Full GAO Report

Biden Nominates Former NJ AG Anne Milgram for DEA Administrator

President Biden has nominated former New Jersey attorney general to lead the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which has not had a Senate-confirmed Administrator since the Obama Administration. Milgram, who served as New Jersey’s attorney general from 2007-2010, is currently working as a lawyer in private practice and as a law professor. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who will both vote on the nomination, have publicly expressed their support of Milgram’s nomination, citing her track record on criminal justice reform. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) said “it is long past time that the Drug Enforcement Administration have a Senate-confirmed leader, and I look forward to closely reviewing Anne Milgram’s record and learning more about her plans to combat this devastating epidemic as we consider this nomination.”

Articles & Resources

The New York Times – Biden nominates former New Jersey attorney general to lead D.E.A. –  Biden names former N.J. attorney general to run Drug Enforcement Agency

Senator Maggie Hassan – Senator Hassan Statement on Nomination of Anne Milgram to Head Drug Enforcement Administration

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

Annals of Internal Medicine – COVID complicates efforts to shut down drug traffickers, boost development

American Journal of Managed Care – Predicting Opioid Use Disorder and Associated Risk Factors in a Medicaid Managed Care Population

Bloomberg Government – Fentanyl Ban Complicates Biden’s Plan to Shift Drug Policy

Bloomberg Government – Fentanyl Has Spread West and Overdoses Are Surging

Bloomberg Government – Loosen Telehealth Restrictions, Employers Urge Congress

Bloomberg Government – Tool Behind Crackdown on Opioids Could Expire

Committee on the Judiciary – Grassley: The Clock is Ticking to Address the Fentanyl Crisis

Congressman Andy Kim – House Committee Holds Hearing on Opioid Education and Treatment Bills Led by Congressman Kim

Congressman Brett Guthrie – Guthrie Works to Combat the Substance Use Disorder Crisis in U.S.

Congressman David Trone – Trone calls for immediate action following new report showing dramatic increase in opioid deaths in Maryland due to COVID

Congressman John Cornyn – Cornyn, GOP Colleagues Call for Investigation into Avantor’s Ties to Mexican Narcotics Trade

JAMA Network Open – Patient-Reported Opioid Consumption and Pain Intensity After Common Orthopedic and Urologic Surgical Procedures With Use of an Automated Text Messaging System

Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy – Persistent post-operative opioid use following hip arthroscopy is common and is associated with pre-operative opioid use and age

NIH Director’s Blog – Lessons Learned About Substance Use Disorders During the COVID-19 Pandemic

RTI International – UNC and RTI to Provide Data Management, Stewardship to NIH-Funded Researchers Focused on the Opioid and Pain Management Public Health Crisis

STAT – A U.S. appeals court upholds the FTC view of controversial pay-to-delay settlements

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada – Three Sparks Men Indicted On Fentanyl Distribution Charges

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania – U.S. Attorney’s Office Urges Participation In National Drug Take Back Day

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California – San Diego Man Sentenced to 188 Months in Fentanyl Overdose Death

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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