HHS and FDA Leadership Testimony at Senate Appropriations Hearings includes Opioid Issues

Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee held two hearings to discuss the Biden Administration’s FY 22 budget proposals for the Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). On June 9th, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra served as the sole witness during the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing. During his testimony, Secretary Becerra noted the increase in opioid overdose deaths and highlighted that the FY 22 budget would be used to increase access to opioid use disorder medications, expand the behavioral health workforce in underserved areas, and create targeted investments to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The FY 22 budget proposal includes $11.2 billion for HHS to address the opioid epidemic and includes $3.5 billion for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant. In response to a question from Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) about opioid alternatives, Secretary Becerra said that HHS’ role would be to support state and local partners as they develop solutions to address substance use disorders. On June 10th, FDA Acting Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock testified at the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing. Dr. Woodcock noted that the agency would earmark $38 million to advance their goal of ending the opioid crisis and would achieve this goal by developing opioid reversal treatments, digital technologies for opioid use disorder, and improved opioid guidance for clinicians.

Articles & Resources

Senate Appropriations Committee – Hearing on the President’s Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request for the United States Department of Health and Human Services

Xavier Becerra Testimony

MedPage Today – Senate Hearing on HHS Budget Showcases Divide Among Democrats, Republicans

Senate Appropriations Committee – Hearing on the Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request for the Food and Drug Administration

Janet Woodcock Testimony

MedPage Today – FDA’s $6.5B Budget Request Targets Opioid Epidemic


FDA Public Scientific Workshop Focuses on Morphine Milligram Equivalents

Last week, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) held a two-day scientific workshop entitled “Morphine Milligram Equivalents: Current Applications and Knowledge Gaps, Research Opportunities, and Future Directions.” Thought leaders and stakeholders from across the agency, public health, provider, and academic landscape discussed topics centered on the science of morphine milligram equivalents (MMEs) for opioid formulations and prescribing. Panelists spoke about the impacts of current science on real world experiences with MMEs, opioid safety initiatives and pilots, existing guidance on the safest possible effective dose of morphine, and the pharmacological and non-pharmacological factors of opioid potency. Members of the public were also given the opportunity to present during the public comment session. More information about the meeting and the meeting materials can be found here.

Articles & Resources

Morphine Milligram Equivalents: Current Applications and Knowledge Gaps, Research Opportunities, and Future Directions


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

American Society on Aging – How Do the Health Crises of COVID-19 and Drug Overdoses Intersect with Aging?

Associated Press News – Missouri to become final state to adopt medication database

Bloomberg Government – DEA: Companies Had ‘Systematic Failure’ in Monitoring Pills

Forbes – Top Democrat Wants Biden Administration To Stop Opioids Settlement That Protects Sackler Family Fortune

Forbes – Walmart Wins Motion To Dismiss In Opioids Case

Health Affairs – Addressing Racial And Ethnic Disparities In The Use Of Medications For Opioid Use Disorder

Health Affairs – Recent Legislation Can Dramatically Improve Substance Use Prevention: Here’s How To Seize The Opportunity

KGET – Fentanyl: The Counterfeit Killer

Law360 – MSP Recovery’s Opioid Claims Consolidated With Ohio MDL

National Football League – NFL-NFLPA Pain Management Committee Accepting Applications for $1 Million in Research Funding

National Governors Association – Community Supervision And Treatment Of Individuals With Substance Use Disorder

NIH – NIH-funded study tests “one-stop” mobile clinics to deliver HIV, substance use care

NIH Director’s Blog – U.S. Surgeon General on Emotional Well-Being and Fighting the Opioid Epidemic

Pennsylvania Pressroom – Wolf Administration Announces Partnership With National Nonprofit To Help Pennsylvanians Find High-Quality Substance Use Disorder Treatment

PLOS One – “Know your epidemic, know your response”: Epidemiological assessment of the substance use disorder crisis in the United States

Politico – Republicans rebel against a powerful anti-opioid tool

The Lancet Public Health – Identifying counties at risk of high overdose mortality burden during the emerging fentanyl epidemic in the USA: a predictive statistical modelling study

The Los Angeles Times – As opioid overdoses rise in L.A. jails, inmates get access to lifesaving drug

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia – Maryland man sentenced for fentanyl distribution

U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia – Berkeley County man sentenced for role in drug conspiracy

U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Ohio – 8 charged in fentanyl distribution conspiracy

U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Arkansas – Third Arkansas Physician Sentenced to Federal Prison for Prescription Fraud

UC San Diego – Researchers Test Model to Predict Drug Overdose Deaths in U.S.

UT Health – Mobile care for persons with opioid use disorder aims to improve HIV prevention and treatment, and reduce opioid overdoses and deaths


This Week’s Calendar

  • Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
    Business meeting to consider the nominations of Gwen Graham, of Florida, to be Assistant Secretary for Legislation and Congressional Affairs, Department of Education, Rajesh D. Nayak, of Maryland, Taryn Mackenzie Williams, of the District of Columbia, and Douglas L. Parker, of West Virginia, each to be an Assistant Secretary of Labor, and Dawn Myers O’Connell, of the District of Columbia, to be Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, and Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, of Connecticut, to be Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, both of the Department of Health and Human Services.
    Wednesday, June 16; 12:00pm; Hearing Notice
  • Senate Committee on the Judiciary
    Meeting: Business meeting to consider the nominations of Tiffany P. Cunningham, of Illinois, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Federal Circuit, Margaret Irene Strickland, to be United States District Judge for the District of New Mexico, Ur Mendoza Jaddou, of California, to be Director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security, and David H. Chipman, of Virginia, to be Director, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Anne Milgram, of New Jersey, to be Administrator of Drug Enforcement, and Kenneth Allen Polite, Jr., of Louisiana, to be an Assistant Attorney General, all of the Department of Justice.
    Thursday, June 17; 9:00am; Hearing Notice

Questions about the above content can be directed to [email protected]faegredrinker.com.