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Hudson's Bipartisan Opioid Bill Unanimously Passes House

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 13, 2018
 
Hudson’s Bipartisan Opioid Bill Unanimously Passes House
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Richard Hudson (NC-08), a leader on the Energy and Commerce Committee, released the following statement after the House passed dozens of bills to combat the opioid crisis, including his bill, the Safe Disposal of Unused Medication Act (H.R. 5041), a bipartisan response to the opioid crisis that will help prevent the misuse or diversion of unused medications by equipping hospice professionals with the legal authority to safely dispose of unused drugs after a hospice patient’s death:
 
“Making sure unused drugs don’t end up in the wrong hands is key in this all-hands-on-deck fight to end the opioid crisis,” said Rep. Hudson. “This isn’t a partisan issue – it’s an American one, and I’m proud of this common sense, bipartisan legislation to allow trained hospice professionals to properly dispose of opioid medication after a patient has passed away.”
 
H.R. 5041 passed by a vote of 398-0. Rep. Hudson joined Republican Rep. Tim Walberg (MI-07) and Democrat Rep. Debbie Dingell (MI-12) to introduce this important legislation. In recent years, the loss, theft or misuse of unused opioids used to treat patients under in-home hospice care has become an increasingly significant problem.
 
While the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) encourages hospice staff to assist families to destroy leftover medications, agency regulations forbid hospice personnel from disposing of the medication themselves unless authorized by state law. H.R. 5041 is supported by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.
 
Over the next two weeks, the House will vote on dozens of bills that originated in the Energy and Commerce Committee to improve access to care for individuals suffering from substance use disorder, provide our health care system with tools and resources it needs to care for patients, and help prevent future misuse of opioids. This effort follows the passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and the 21st Century Cures Act last Congress, as well as the $4 billion appropriated in the FY18 omnibus.
 
Background
North Carolina has four of the top twenty-five worst cities for abuse in the country – including Fayetteville. According to the Journal of American Medical Association, less than 10 percent of patients dispose of their opioids properly and 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids.
 
As a leader on the Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Hudson continues to be on the front lines of the committee’s work to learn more about how and why the opioid epidemic happened and what legislative solutions can be pursued. He recently hosted a roundtable discussion at Serenity House in Concord to meet with local leaders, local officials, law enforcement, health care professionals and members of our community fighting addiction and talk about ways to improve public health response efforts.
 
This week’s action builds on months of bipartisan work and discussions. In March during a two-day Health Subcommittee hearing entitled, “Combating the Opioid Crisis: Prevention and Public Health Solutions,” the Subcommittee discussed his bill and Rep. Hudson questioned witnesses, including Dr. John Holaday, Chairman and CEO of DisposeRx, the country’s leading site-of-use medication disposal company which is located in Southern Pines, N.C., in Rep. Hudson’s district. Rep. Hudson and Dr. Holaday highlighted the importance of educating patients on the proper use, storage and disposal of opioids and offering convenient disposal methods.
   
Rep. Hudson is recognized as the leader on trying to find solutions to help prevent the misuse or diversion of unused opioids by safe, accessible disposal methods. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden has applauded Rep. Hudson’s idea to study new and innovative technologies that claim to have the capability to safely dispose of opioids and other medications, saying“Frankly, making it easier to dispose of opioids is just a commonsense idea, and Rep. Richard Hudson is taking opioid disposal another step further. His legislation would require the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study new and innovative technologies that claim to be able to safely dispose of opioids and other unused medications. GAO would review and detail the effectiveness of these disposal methods. This bill would also necessitate the Attorney General to promulgate guidelines for the safe site-of-use in-home disposal of prescription drugs.”
 
In March, Rep. Hudson welcomed the president’s proposal to combat the opioid crisis and pledged to continue working with the administration, colleagues and state and local officials to raise awareness and find ways to defeat this opioid epidemic. In addition, Rep. Hudson questioned Susan Gibson, the Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Diversion Control Division at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and spoke of these ideas to safely dispose of unused opioids.
 
Last October, Rep. Hudson shared local stories and highlighted potential legislative solutions, saying, “One idea I’m working on is expanding access to safe ways to dispose of prescription drugs, particularly opioids. DisposeRx is a company in my district that manufactures a powder that mixes with water inside the pill bottle and renders any unused opioids not only inaccessible and inextricable, but also bio-degradable. It’s innovative ideas like this that we need to explore and I look forward to working with colleagues on the Committee to help treat and prevent this opioid addiction.”
 
Because of his critical work and leadership on this issue, Rep. Hudson was the only member of Congress from the North Carolina delegation to attend the White House’s announcement to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency last October.
 
Last Congress, Rep. Hudson helped the committee lead two major initiatives that were signed into law that provide critical resources for combating the crisis. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act includes 11 committee bills which ranged from additional resources to combat the epidemic to establishing an inter-agency task force to review, modify and update best practices for pain management and how it is prescribed. It is recognized by leading national advocates as “the critical response we need.” In September 2017, HHS released $144.1 million, largely through CARA to help prevent and treat opioid addiction. The 21st Century Cures Act provides $1 billion in state grants to be applied to the fight on the front lines. To learn more, click here.
 
Just as the crisis continues across the United States, Congress and the administration are redoubling efforts. Those actions range from ensuring successful implementation of the laws passed last year to continuing to investigate and identify additional solutions that will help those battling addiction, improve prevention efforts, and support local officials, law enforcement and the health care professionals responding to the crisis.
 
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