Energy and Commerce Committee passes Rx drug diversion bill
WASHINGTON — The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday passed, by a voice vote in the full committee mark-up of the bill, legislation to help curb prescription drug diversion and abuse and protect patients in need of medication.
U.S. Reps. Tom Marino, R-Pa.; Peter Welch, D-Vt.; Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.; and Judy Chu, D-Calif., introduced H.R. 471, the Ensuring Patient Access to Effective Drug Enforcement Act, last month. Identical legislation introduced in the 113th Congress was passed by the U.S. House last fall.
Specifically, H.R. 471 would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to work jointly with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Office of National Drug Control Policy to assess obstacles to legitimate patient access to controlled substances, and to identify how collaboration between agencies and stakeholders can benefit patients and prevent diversion and abuse of prescription drugs.
Industry leaders, including the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and HDMA, applauded the move.
“HDMA is delighted that H.R. 471 has cleared another milestone toward House passage. We thank Chairman Upton, the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the bill sponsors for their commitment to strengthening the relationship between pharmaceutical supply chain and regulatory stakeholders to help reduce prescription drug abuse and diversion,” stated HDMA president and CEO John Gray.
In a letter to the committee leadership ahead of Thursday’s mark-up, NACDS reiterated its support for this bipartisan legislation.
In a letter to committee chairman Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., and ranking member Frank Pallone, Jr., D-N.J., NACDS stated: “As the face of neighborhood health care, we seek to partner with policy-makers to develop and implement viable policies and strategies that empower law enforcement to protect Americans against the dangers of prescription drug diversion and abuse while maintaining legitimate patient access to needed medications.”
In the letter, NACDS emphasized the importance of policies, such as this bill that enables law enforcement to serve the public and act to address prescription drug diversion and abuse, while still maintaining patient access to medically necessary medications.
“We are pleased that the legislation would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to collaborate with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Office of National Drug Control Policy to assess how patient access to medications could be adversely affected by federal and state law enforcement activities, and to identify how collaboration between agencies and stakeholders can benefit patients and prevent diversion and abuse of prescription drugs,” the letter stated.
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