Durbin Reintroduces Legislation to Combat Opioid Over-Production and Over-Prescribing

CHICAGO – As the prescription opioid, heroin, and fentanyl overdose epidemic continues to impact communites around Illinois and the country, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today reintroduced his legislation to improve opioid prescribing practices and responsibly limit the volume and type of addictive painkillers on the market. The Addiction Prevention and Responsible Opioid Practices Act (A-PROP Act) would strengthen oversight of the pharmaceutical industry, and help prevent opioid over-prescribing by enhancing education and training for medical students and current practitioners.


“Our nation is in the midst of the worst drug epidemic in its history.  Every day, 115 Americans die from an opioid overdose,” Durbin said. “I have worked to address many elements of this problem, but to prevent addiction we need to look at the upstream factors causing this crisis. I’ve introduced this legislation to finally hold the pharmaceutical industry accountable for their reckless marketing and production of painkillers, and to promote responsible prescribing and dispensing practices for medical professionals.  All stakeholders—government, industry, medical community, and law enforcement—have a duty to do what we can to get us out of this mess.”


Four out of five heroin users report that their addiction began with a prescription for opioids and despite some reductions in opioid prescribing, the single most prescribed medication in Illinois in 2017 was still hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Vicodin). In 2016, the pharmaceutical industry put 14 billion opioid doses on the market—enough for every adult in America to have a three-week supply of painkillers. 


The A-PROP Act would seek to prevent addiction before it starts. This legislation 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:

  • Require drug company representatives who promote opioids to be licensed and undergo mandatory training and reporting (building off an initiative launched by the City of Chicago);
  • Impose a tax on opioids to fund drug takeback and treatment programs;
  • Expand Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) data reporting to provide information to state medical/ pharmacy licensing boards on shipments between distributors and pharmacies;
  • Clarify FDA authority to remove ultra-high dose opioids from the market (certain formulations of opioids that, when taken as directed by the label, provide patients with amounts of opioids well-above the safety threshold set out in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidelines)
  • As a condition for obtaining DEA controlled substance license, require practitioners who want to prescribe opioids for more than 3 days to undergo specialized training;
  • Require medical/dental schools to report to Health & Human Services (HHS) on their pain management and opioid prescribing curricula, and whether it aligns with CDC guidelines;
  • Require prescribers to consult the prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) before writing a prescription, and improve data sharing to identify outlier doctors. 


Durbin has also introduced several pieces of legislation to lift an outdated Medicaid rule that restricts residential addiction treatment to facilities with less than 16 beds; address early-life traumatic experiences to prevent future drug misuse, violence, or mental illness; and enhance the DEA’s authority to adjust annual opioid production quotas to confront the current opioid crisis.