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Hudson's Bipartisan Opioid Bill Passes House, Hailed as One of "The Most Important Opioid Bills"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 19, 2018
 
Hudson’s Bipartisan Opioid Bill Passes House, Hailed as One of “The Most Important Opioid Bills”
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the House passed U.S. Representative Richard Hudson’s (NC-08) bipartisan bill, the Securing Opioids and Unused Narcotics with Deliberate (SOUND) Disposal and Packaging Act (H.R. 5687), 342-13. This bill is applauded as one of “the most important opioid bills in the House” and legislation that “could make a more serious difference.”  
 
H.R. 5687 is a bipartisan bill Rep. Hudson introduced with Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D-NC) that would encourage and promote improved packaging and disposal methods with respect to opioids. Specifically, this bill would:
  • Direct the FDA to work with manufacturers to establish programs for efficient return or destruction of unused Schedule II or III opioids. These methods could include mail-back pouches to secure facilities for incineration, or methods to immediately inactivate/render unattractive unused drugs;
  • Facilitate utilization of packaging that will help reduce diversion, overprescribing, or abuse of Schedule II or III opioids; and
  • Require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study new and innovative technologies that claim to be able to safely dispose of opioids and other unused medications.
Prior to House passage, Rep. Hudson spoke on the House floor to urge his colleagues to support this common sense bill, saying in part, “I focused on packaging and disposal because it seemed everyone I talked to had sort of a lightbulb go off. So many of us have unused opioids in our medicine cabinets from surgeries, accidents, or hospital visits. With 70% of heroin addictions beginning in the medicine cabinet, attacking this oversupply with packaging on the front end and with disposal on the back end was a logical place for me to start. We need to reduce the supply of opioids that find their way out of the medicine cabinet, and this legislation is a first step that will do just that.”
 
 
To watch his remarks, click here and read the entire transcript below:
 
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the time.
 
In 2018, more than 2 million Americans will suffer from addiction to prescription or illicit opioids. As I’ve traveled across my district, I have seen firsthand the devastating effects these drugs can have on families, friends and loved ones. There is no barrier for these drugs. They strike at every level of society and across every geographic region—it touches all of us. 
 
In North Carolina, we have four of the top 25 worst cities for opioid abuse in the country. This truly is the crisis next door and I am proud of the collective effort the House of Representatives has undertaken in a bipartisan way to address this epidemic. One important piece of this effort is a bipartisan bill I worked on with my colleague G. K. Butterfield, the SOUND Disposal and Packaging Act, which will direct the FDA to work with manufacturers to help reduce diversion, overprescribing, and abuse of schedule II or III opioids.
 
I focused on packaging and disposal because it seemed everyone I talked to had sort of a lightbulb go off. So many of us have unused opioids in our medicine cabinets from surgeries, accidents, or hospital visits. With 70% of heroin addictions beginning in the medicine cabinet, attacking this oversupply with packaging on the front end and with disposal on the back end was a logical place for me to start. We need to reduce the supply of opioids that find their way out of the medicine cabinet, and this legislation is a first step that will do just that.
 
I appreciate the leadership of my friend G. K. Butterfield for working with me in a bipartisan manner and I want to thank the leadership of the Energy and Commerce Committee and Health Subcommittee, Chairmen Walden, Chairman Burgess, Ranking Members Pallone and Greene, for their partnership and help to make sure this could be a reality today.
 
Finally, Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to submit to the record this letter from DisposeRx in support of H.R. 5687, the SOUND Disposal and Packaging Act. I urge all my colleagues to support this legislation, and I yield back to Chairman Walden.”
 
Background
To help combat the opioid crisis that’s wreaking havoc on communities across the country, the House is considering dozens of bills – prioritizing treatment and recovery, prevention, ways to protect our community, and fighting fentanyl. Last week, the House unanimously passed Rep. Hudson’s 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. H.R. 5041 passed by a vote of 398-0.
 
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. For more information on what the House is doing to combat the opioid crisis, visit opioidcrisis.gop.
 
North Carolina has four of the top twenty-five worst cities for abuse in the country – including Fayetteville. As a leader on the Energy and Commerce Committee, the panel tasked with writing most of the nation’s health-care laws, 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.
 
The House’s two-week 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. This is critical as, 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. 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.
 
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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