Durbin, Shaheen, Toomey, Sessions Introduce Bill To Reauthorize Program To Curb Prescription Drug Addiction

Reauthorization of National All-Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting (NASPER) program will support state efforts to monitor prescription drugs

[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) introduced legislation today to reauthorize the National All-Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting (NASPER) program which provides grants to states to maintain, improve, and expand their prescription drug monitoring programs. Prescription narcotic drugs are the number one cause of overdoses in the United States with more than 22,000 reported deaths due to prescription drug related overdoses in 2011. The program was originally signed into law in 2005. In Illinois, the number of drug overdose deaths, the majority which are from prescription drugs, increased by nearly 50% between 1999 and 2010.


“In recent years, Illinois – like the rest of the country – has seen an increase in drug overdose deaths caused by prescription pills,” Senator Durbin said. “Reauthorizing the NASPER program is essential to state and local governments that are working to curb prescription drug abuse and combat this fast-growing epidemic.”


“In New Hampshire we’ve seen prescription drug addiction increase exponentially over the past decade and the epidemic is hurting families and communities in our state,” Senator Shaheen said. “Prescription drug monitoring plays an important role in combating the rise in prescription drug and heroin addiction, underscoring why it’s so critical that we reauthorize this program to help local officials strengthen and expand these programs.”


“Over the past several months, I’ve visited with families, law enforcement officials, and medical professionals across Pennsylvania to learn about the root causes of our state’s prescription drug and heroin epidemic,” Senator Toomey said. “Prescription drug monitoring programs work in stemming the illegal diversion of abused prescription drugs and I’m hopeful that the bipartisan reauthorization of NASPER will enhance these efforts because it will provide critical funding to coordinate state programs while also improving access to data for health care providers.”


“As a former federal prosecutor and state Attorney General, I have seen firsthand the profound social harm prescription drug addiction and abuse has had on communities and families,” Senator Sessions said. “Many prescription drugs produce powerful addictions – stronger than some illicit narcotics. The reauthorization of NASPER is a positive step that ensures states have the necessary tools to educate and closely monitor this growing problem.”


NASPER would improve the ability of law enforcement, public health officials and state regulators to investigate prescribing and dispensing practices by helping states develop more robust prescription drug monitor programs. NASPER can provide support to already existing state prescription drug monitoring programs and bolster their ability to operate both effectively and efficiently. Prescription drug monitoring programs help monitor prescription drugs, provide information to health care providers and offer educational outreach.