The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee unveiled a bipartisan discussion draft of the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 on April 4, followed by a committee hearing a week later. The proposed bill seeks to stem opioid abuse by authorizing new grant programs to agencies such as the NIH, the FDA, SAMHSA, and the CDC. It is intended to spur development of non-addictive painkillers and other approaches to manage pain and substance abuse, give flexibility to agencies seeking to move faster on opioid-related research, and create new procedures for the safe disposal of excess opioid medications. The Senate HELP Committee plans to "mark-up" the draft legislation on April 24. Meanwhile, the House Energy and Commerce Committee is developing its own opioid package with the expectation of gaining House passage before Memorial Day.
Impact on General Dentistry: The AGD continues to monitor Congressional efforts to curb opioid abuse as well as seek ways to engage policy makers on policy proposals that discourage misuse, without undermining patient care.