Senate passes bipartisan legislation to combat opioid epidemic

The Senate on Monday overwhelmingly passed a bill aimed at combating the opioid epidemic through new research, treatment, and help for families affected by addiction. The legislation, which includes more than 70 provisions, needs to be reconciled with a measure that passed the House of Representatives in June.

The Senate on Monday overwhelmingly passed a bill aimed at combating the opioid epidemic through new research, treatment, and help for families affected by addiction. The legislation, which includes more than 70 provisions, needs to be reconciled with a measure that passed the House of Representatives in June. Senate aides are optimistic the bills can be reconciled and passed by the end of the year. One proposal, by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), calls on physicians to discuss pain-management alternatives for those who use Medicare. "The bill also increases the ability to track opioid prescriptions to prevent misuse and diversion, while also ensuring beneficiaries promptly get the medications they need," Hatch said on the Senate floor Monday. The Senate legislation would give money to NIH to research a nonaddictive opioid analgesic. One provision would clarify that FDA has the authority to require prescription opioids to be packaged in set amounts, for 3 or 7 days, for example. Yet another provision aims to increase the detection and seizure of illegal drugs, such as fentanyl, by strengthening communications between FDA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.