Chuck Grassley

United States Senator from Iowa

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Grassley’s Ongoing Efforts to Curb the Cycle of Opioid Abuse

May 29, 2018

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, continues to be a leader in the fight against opioid addiction and abuse.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that two-thirds of drug overdose deaths between 2015 and 2016 were opioid-involved overdoses. The Iowa Department of Public Health estimated that more than 200 Iowans died from opioid misuse in 2017. One such death is too many.

“The opioid epidemic affects people from every background. From rural America to the coasts, and everywhere in between, it is ruining the lives of individuals, their families and entire communities,” Grassley said. “There’s no quick fix. The problem won’t be solved overnight. But there are measures that Congress can take to curb the cycle of addiction and help improve the lives of those impacted by opioid and other substance abuse. This is a serious epidemic in America that transcends party politics. I’m proud of the bipartisan work we’ve already accomplished on this issue and will continue working toward solutions.”

A list of bipartisan legislative efforts in the fight against opioid abuse both led and co-sponsored by Grassley is available below, including five bills that were successfully passed the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.

  • S.2891 Fighting the Opioid Epidemic with Sunshine Act
    • S.2891 will require drug companies and medical device makers to publicly disclose the same payments made to nurse practitioners and physician assistants for promotional talks, consulting and other interactions.
    • More information available here.
  • S.2645 Access to Increased Drug Disposal Act of 2018
    • S.2645 will encourage increased participation of authorized collectors in drug take back programs by awarding grants to states. It will focus particular attention on states within the lowest quartile of participation in take back programs.
    • More information available here.
    • See also: Drug take back programs can fight the growth of opioid addiction
  • S.2535 Opioid Quota Reform Act
    • S.2535 will empower the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to consider additional factors when setting annual quotas for opioid drug production in the United States. Currently, DEA can only consider past sales and estimated demand. This bill allows the agency to take into account diversion, abuse, overdose deaths and public health impacts when setting quotas.
    • More information available here.
  • S.2789 Substance Abuse Prevention Act
    • S.2789 will reauthorize the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), keeping the Drug-Free Communities (DFC) and High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) programs within that office. It will also boost public awareness of opioid and heroin addiction as authorized under the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA); provide resources for families to stay together when one is battling substance abuse; and require the Attorney General and the Dept. of Health and Human Services to complete a plan for educating and training health care providers in best practices for prescribing controlled substances.
    • More information available here.
  • S.207 Synthetic Abuse and Labeling of Toxic Substances (SALTS) Act of 2017
    • S.207 will close a legal loophole that inhibits the prosecution of opioid analogue traffickers by clarifying when a controlled substance analogue is or is not intended for human consumption.
    • More information available here.
  • S.2837 Preventing Drug Diversion Act of 2018
  • S.2838 Using Data to Prevent Opioid Diversion Act of 2018
    • S.2838 will require DEA to use anonymized data to track and prevent the diversion of prescription opioids into illegal sales. The data will be available to registrants, and will include the total number of distributors serving a single pharmacy or practitioner and the total number of opioid pills distributed to a single pharmacy or practitioner.
    • More information available here.
  • S.2901 Expanding Telehealth Response to Ensure Addiction Treatment (e-TREAT) Act
    • S.2901 will increase access to substance use disorder treatment through telehealth technology in Medicare.
    • More information available here.
  • S.2912 Opioid Addiction Treatment Programs Enhancement Act
    • S.2912 will require HHS to report on the prevalence of substance use disorders in Medicaid. This annual report will include the number of people in Medicaid with a substance use disorder and the number of services provided to these individuals. The reporting will be uniform across managed care, fee for service, and state waivers. The data will be made available to researchers in anonymized manner. Understanding the scope of substance use disorder as well as understanding what therapies work will provide invaluable information to policy makers as they fight the opioid epidemic. Currently, there is no comprehensive database for this information in Medicaid.
  • S.2921 Securing Flexibility to Treat Substance Use Disorders Act
    • S.2921 will improve access to care for people with substance use disorders that require inpatient services.

In 2016, Grassley led the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), a sweeping addiction recovery bill aimed at addressing the nation’s growing heroin and opioid addiction epidemic, through the Senate. The bill, which later became law, included a number of Grassley provisions to assist in the fight against methamphetamine. 

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