SAMHSA to Provide $30M in Harm Reduction Grants in First-Ever Funding Program

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration announced that it will award $30 million to fund trauma-informed, evidence-based community harm reduction services through the new SAMHSA Harm Reduction grant program. Under the program, organizations can use the funding to expand their overdose prevention efforts, including distributing naloxone and fentanyl test strips, expanding sterile syringe programs, developing prevention education on synthetic opioids, and facilitating treatment and other medical care referrals. SAMHSA will distribute $10 million every year for three year to State, local, Tribal, and territorial governments, Tribal organizations, non-profit community-based organizations, and primary and behavioral health organizations. In a press release, Dr. Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use in the Department of Health and Human Services and Administrator of SAMHSA, said, “Innovative harm reduction services will help keep Americans alive. Thanks to this American Rescue Plan funding, harm reduction service providers in historically under-resourced communities will receive long-awaited support to help stem the disproportionate number of overdose deaths and related health issues facing those communities.”

Articles & Resources

SAMHSA – SAMHSA Announces Unprecedented $30 Million Harm Reduction Grant Funding Opportunity to Help Address the Nation’s Substance Use and Overdose Epidemic

House Passage of 15 Health Bills Includes Two Opioid Bills

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed 15 health bills, including two bills focused on expanding U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) actions to combat the opioid epidemic. The Opioid Prescription Verification Act of 2021 would require that HHS update training materials for pharmacists on how to verify the identities of people picking up prescription opioids, including checking IDs when dispensing opioids and entering the information of the person picking up an opioid prescription into the state Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to allow law enforcement to track patterns of abuse. The legislation would also require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to collaborate with other agencies to provide guidance to pharmacists on ID checks and safe dispensing. The Synthetic Opioid Danger Awareness Act would require HHS to develop and implement a national education campaign, training guide, and webinar for the public, first responders, clinicians, and other people at risk of exposure to synthetic opioids about the dangers of synthetic opioids. In joint statement on the passage of the 15 bills, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) and Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18) said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored just how essential it is to invest in our nation’s public health by providing caregivers, providers, and patients with the resources and support they need. With the passage of these 15 bills, Congress is continuing its work to ensure the well-being of the American people by making necessary investments and providing support for frontline health workers and patients.”

Articles & Resources

House Committee on Energy & Commerce – Pallone & Eshoo Praise House Passage of 15 Health Bills

Bloomberg Government – H.R. 2364

Bloomberg Government – H.R. 2355

Lawmakers Introduce Bills to Address Opioid Manufacturing and Fentanyl Trafficking

Last week, lawmakers in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate introduced companion legislations to address the ongoing opioid epidemic. On December 7th, Senator Edward J. Markey (MA) and Representative David Cicilline (RI-01) reintroduced the Opioid Quota Openness, Transparency, and Awareness (QuOTA) Act. The bill would require that a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) manufacturer’s opioid analgesic procurement quota, applications for active ingredients, and year-end reports on quota use be made publicly available on the DEA website. In a press release, Senator Markey said, “The public has the right to know which drug companies are manufacturing opioid painkillers, how many, and their justification for asking the DEA to approve their quota requests. Only by returning accountability to the system by which we authorize and manufacture these painkillers each year will we have a chance of ending this deadly scourge of opioid addiction, overdose, and death.”

On December 8th, Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (LA) and Richard Burr (NC) and Representatives Bob Latta (OH-05), and Morgan Griffith (VA-0) introduced the Halt Lethal Trafficking (HALT) Fentanyl Act. The bill would make the scheduling of fentanyl and fentanyl analogs as Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) permanent and would expand medical research on specific fentanyl analogs by providing research exemptions. In a press release, Representative Griffith said, “This bill introduced by Congressman Latta and I would recognize the danger of fentanyl related substances by permanently scheduling them while also allowing researchers to study their effects. As drug overdoses continue to claim thousands of lives each year in our country, our bill offers a way to make progress amid the tragedy of addiction.”

Articles & Resources

Senator Ed Markey – Senator Markey And Rep. Cicilline Reintroduce Legislation to Address Over-Manufacture of Opioid Painkillers, Spur Transparency in Approval Process at DEA

Senator Bill Cassidy – Cassidy, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Combat Illegal Fentanyl, Improve Research

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.

Bloomberg Government – HRSA to Renew Rural Communities Opioid Response Program Data Collection

Bloomberg Government – WH Reviewing FDA Draft Guide On Non-Opioid Pain Medicines

Department of Homeland Security – Master Question List for Synthetic Opioids

Federal Register – Schedules of Controlled Substances: Temporary Placement of Butonitazene, Etodesnitazene, Flunitazene, Metodesnitazene, Metonitazene, N-pyrrolidino etonitazene, and Protonitazene in Schedule I

JAMA – Product Approval and Public Health at the US Food and Drug Administration

NPR – The NIH director on why Americans aren’t getting healthier, despite medical advances

Penn Nursing – Exploring the Effectiveness of Telehealth in Opioid Use Disorder

Politico – Biden’s big decision on the opioid crisis

RAPS – Legislators have mixed views on whether to classify fentanyl as a schedule I substance

Senator Rob Portman – ICYMI: Portman to Fox News: Biden Admin Must Do More to Stop Flow of Fentanyl into US, Combat Addiction Crisis

The Washington Post – In Congress, David Trone keeps it personal: Combating the opioid epidemic that killed his nephew

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services – Secretary Becerra Delivers Remarks During Joint HHS-ONDCP Press Call on Biden-Harris Administration Harm Reduction Investments

University of Michigan – Fewer than 10% of opioid overdose patients are prescribed potentially lifesaving medications after emergency treatment

This Week’s Calendar

Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Hearings to examine the nomination of Robert McKinnon Califf, of North Carolina, to be Commissioner of Food and Drugs, Department of Health and Human Services.
Tuesday, December 14th; 10:00am; Hearing Notice

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