Senators have recently voted 99 to one to pass a bipartisan bill addressing America’s opioid crisis. The bill specifically focuses on limiting the introduction of new opioids into the country from foreign areas, while also increasing access to treatment for Americans already suffering from addiction. While the bill still needs to be properly coordinated with a measure passed by the House in June, experts are optimistic that a full package for prevention and treatment of opioid addiction will be underway by the end of 2018.
State of the Union: The Current State of the Opioid Crisis
As it stands, the opioid crisis continues to plague Americans everywhere. Opioids and methadone for pain management are often used for recreational use, leading to prescription painkiller addiction. Of the 20.5 million Americans age 12 or older that had a substance abuse disorder in 2015, 2 million had a disorder involving prescription pain relievers. This figure has only continued to rise in recent years, leading to the passing of the recent Senate bill.
Details of the Bill
The Senate’s Opioid Crisis Response Act is designed to close several legal loopholes within the system that allowed for opioids and various other drugs to enter into the country largely through the mail. The new bill will push the US Post Office to collect additional data on items being sent through their mailing systems, making it more complicated for traffickers to send drugs through the mail as a means of avoiding US customs.
Additionally, the legislation makes it easier for existing addicts to get proper treatment and care. The bill places emphasis on the research and development of nonaddictive painkillers, while also easing access to drug treatment and prevention programs. If a nonaddictive alternative to opioids is developed and perfected, the effects on curbing the overall opioid epidemic would be immeasurable.
Smaller details include enabling the FDA to require changes to opioid packaging, making it more difficult for children to accidentally access through the use of blister packs and other more protective packaging. Doses would also be limited, making overdose hopefully less frequent.
Work has already begun to consolidate legislation between the House and the Senate. If the work continues as scheduled, the final package will be sent to the White House by the end of 2018.