House Passes 25 Bills To Aid Fight Against Opioid Crisis

By Paul Gaita 06/15/18

The bills cover a variety of issues ranging from improving sober living homes to disposal of unused medication.

House members
House members shared the stories of constituents who have been impacted by opioid addiction. Photo via YouTube

In an effort to lend legislative support to the fight against the national opioid epidemic, the House of Representatives passed 25 bills that would provide crucial support to both government and public organizations to combat the crisis on a number of fronts.

The bills, authored by both Democratic and Republican representatives, include measures to expand access to the overdose reversal drug naloxone, develop new forms of pain medication that are non-dependency-forming, and allow medical professionals to view a patient's medical history for previous substance abuse.

Greg Walden (R-OR), the Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman, and Michael C. Burger (R-TX), Health Subcommittee Chairman, said in a joint statement that the bills are "real solutions that will change how we respond to this crisis."

Among the bills passed are:

  • H.R. 449, the Synthetic Drug Awareness Act of 2018, which will require U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams to submit a "comprehensive report to Congress on the public health effects of the rise of synthetic drug use among youth aged 12 to 18," authored by Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Chris Collins (D-NY)
  • H.R. 4684, the Ensuring Access to Quality Sober Living Act of 2018, which will authorize the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to "develop, publish, and disseminate best practices for operating recovery housing that promotes a safe environment for sustained recovery," authored by Reps. Judy Chu (D-CA), Mimi Walters (R-CA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Raul Ruiz (D-CA)
  • H.R. 5009, Jessie's Law, which will require the Department of Health and Human Services to develop the best way to present information about substance use disorder in a consenting patient's history for medical professionals to make informed decisions about treatment, authored by Reps. Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Debbie Dingell (D-MD)
  • H.R. 5012, the Safe Disposal of Unused Medication Act, which will allow hospice employees to remove and dispose of unused controlled substances after the death of a patient, authored by Reps. Walberg and Dingell
  • H.R. 5327, the Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers Act of 2018, which will establish such centers to "dramatically improve the opportunities for individuals to establish and maintain long-term recovery through the use of FDA-approved medications and evidence-based treatment, authored by Health Subcommittee Vice Chairman Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Ranking Member Gene Green (R-TX)
  • And H.R. 4275, the Empowering Pharmacists in the Fight Against Opioid Abuse Act, which will give pharmacists more information and ability to decline prescriptions for controlled substances which they suspect to be fraudulent or for abuse, authored by Reps. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) and Buddy Carter (R-GA).

Reps. Walden and Burgess noted in their statement that the bills will "make our states and local communities better equipped in the nationwide efforts to stem this tide" of opioid dependency and overdose.

The House will continue to review related bills on January 14, including H.R. 6069, which will require the Comptroller General to conduct a study on how virtual currencies are used to facilitate goods or services linked to drug or sex trafficking.

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.