Durbin Announces New Bill to Combat Opioid Epidemic
Legislation would curb the number of addictive painkillers flooding the market and promote responsible prescribing practices
[CHICAGO] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today unveiled new legislation to combat the volume of addictive painkillers on the market and improve prescribing practices as the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic continues to rock communities across Illinois and the country. The Addiction Prevention and Responsible Opioid Practices Act (A-PROP Act), which Durbin will formally introduce in the Senate next week, would curb the number of opioids flooding the market, increase accountability to ensure addictive painkillers are being prescribed responsibly, and support prevention efforts to reduce drug diversion.
“In recent years, Illinois – like the rest of the country – has seen an alarming increase in drug overdose deaths. We cannot accept this norm. We must find a solution that not only helps people after their addiction, but that also seeks to prevent them from becoming addicted. That means cracking down on the drug companies – who, for years, misled doctors about the risks of opioids, and who, to this day, flood the market with excessive amounts of addictive painkillers,” Durbin said. “It also means promoting accountability and education so doctors are prescribing judiciously and pharmacists are filling responsibly. This is an all-hands-on-deck situation. Each stakeholder who plays a role needs to step up and take responsibility toward a solution. That is why, next week when I am back in Washington, I will be introducing legislation that will work to shut off the spigot that is fueling this crisis.”
Illinois experienced 1,652 overdose deaths in 2014 – a nearly 30 percent increase since 2010.
Deaths from prescription opioids—drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone – have quadrupled since 1999 and four out of five new heroin users started out by misusing prescription opioids. In 2014, health care providers in the United States wrote 245 million prescriptions for painkillers, enough for every adult American to have a month’s supply of pills.
Durbin has introduced several pieces of legislation to expand treatment for heroin addiction and increase access to drug prevention programs that have been proven to save lives, but this new legislation would seek to prevent addiction before it starts. A-PROP would provide enhanced oversight and new tools that are needed to reduce exposure to opioids in the first place. Specifically, the bill would do the following:
- Strengthen FDA oversight of new opioids coming to market
- Put pressure on DEA to limit the volume of pills available
- Require that certain medical professionals who prescribe longer-term use of painkillers receive appropriate education
- Encourage medical schools to responsibly educate our future doctors
- Strengthen drug monitoring systems to prevent over-prescribing and identify individuals who may need help
- Examine new options for non-opioid treatments
- Ensure that drug manufacturers are responsible stewards of their products by having them establish drug disposal programs and help fund addiction treatment programs.
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