The U.S. House of Representatives passed a comprehensive bill that would tackle the nation’s growing opioid drug abuse problem that includes programs to increase education about the dangers of heroin and prescription painkillers, provide more access to the opioid antidote naloxone, and give treatment for prisoners suffering from addiction.
Lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act that rolls a slew of anti-opioid bills passed earlier in the week into a single measure. The act will serve as a base for the Senate when negotiating a final version of the bill.
“We’re facing a public health crisis that crosses ever socioeconomic, every geographic, generational and ethnic boundary,” Rep. Susan Brooks said. “It’s a rural, urban and suburban problem. It reaches into our schools, our places of work, our hospitals. It’s tearing apart and devastating families, and people’s lives.”
The House amendment would allow for a review of current treatment programs and laws that tackle the growing problem of prescription opioids as well as illegal drugs such as heroin, and create a $103 million annual grant program with the U.S. Department of Justice for state and local programs. Incentives were also worked in to encourage drug makers to formulate new opioids with abuse-deterrent properties.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already started pushing forward new measures to fight prescription drug abuse by adding stricter warnings to immediate-release formulations of opioid painkillers. And, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has urged doctors to consider whether opioids are absolutely necessary for patients before prescribing them.