Life Science Compliance Update

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December 07, 2017

Congress Taking New Approach to Opioid Epidemic

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Recently, Representative Bob Latta introduced a bill into the United States House of Representatives. The bill, known as the Indexing Narcotics, Fentanyl and Opioids (INFO) Act, is intended to help create a public electronic database of information and strategies to combat the opioid crisis. The information in the database would be used to help federal, state, and local officials develop the most effective strategies to prevent addiction, treat those that are addicted, and keep prescription drugs from falling into the wrong hands. The INFO Act would also track federal funding being used to combat the epidemic.

The bill requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to appoint a Federal Coordinator to oversee the creation of the database, as well as coordinate related programs within HHS and serve as a liaison to state and local governments. The Federal Coordinator would work in consultation with the Department of Justice, Department of Veteran Affairs, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and other relevant agencies.

The database would act as a central location for the public to find information on the following:

  • Federal funding allocations made available for research and treatment of opioid abuse;
  • Research relating to opioid abuse from all federal agencies, state and local governments, non-profits, law enforcement, medical experts, public health educators, and even research institutes.

The bill would also require HHS to evaluate other issues relating to pain management, addiction, prescription guidelines, treatments, trends and patterns, and effective solutions and programs used across the country.  HHS would be required to:

  • Examine causes and patterns in pain management and addiction;
  • Evaluate opioid abuse treatment programs, including medicated-assisted treatments, and determine their effectiveness;
  • Analyze opioid prescription guidelines, including types of opioids prescribed and trends, and recommend alternatives for pain treatment; and
  • Examine abuse rates among veterans versus the general population.

The Federal Coordinator would be responsible to submit a report to Congress one year after the date of enactment, and an additional report after five years, of results of any analysis, evaluation, or comparison conducted under their direction.

“Communities in Ohio and around the nation continue to suffer from the rise of opioid abuse and addiction,” said Latta. “While the magnitude of this crisis is evident in the number of opioid-related deaths, we’re still lacking basic information on the effectiveness of federal programs and other efforts. In order to develop the best plans to attack this problem, we need the best information. The INFO Act would improve data collection relating to addiction, prescription guidelines, treatment, pain management, patterns of abuse, and other areas in order to find help find solutions. When it comes to this crisis, failure is not an option.”

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