Jenkins bill would help combat opioid abuse

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U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) introduced a bipartisan bill on Monday to help improve prescription drug monitoring programs and reduce opioid abuse.

The Prescription Drug Monitoring Act would push states to enhance their use of prescription drug monitoring programs, a powerful tool to prevent opioid abuse. While most states have a monitoring program, they vary widely in how they are used and operated. The legislation would focus federal resources on improving the state monitoring programs’ effectiveness. States would provide access to their prescription drug monitoring program data to other states, prescribers would check the database before prescribing powerful medications like opioids, and pharmacies would submit prescribing information within 24 hours.

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) is the lead cosponsor of the legislation. This is the House companion to S. 778, the Prescription Drug Monitoring Act, introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

“Opioid abuse affects countless families and virtually every community across West Virginia, and it often starts with the misuse and abuse of prescription pills. By widely implementing prescription drug monitoring programs, we can help prevent overprescribing and doctor shopping – two activities that fuel the drug crisis. I would like to thank Congressman Tim Ryan and Senators Klobuchar and Portman for their efforts on this important legislation. Stopping the opioid crisis is a top priority – by working together, we can find solutions to combat the drug crisis and help people live healthier, drug-free lives,” Rep. Jenkins said.

“Elected officials at every level of government have an obligation to fight the growing opioid addiction epidemic in our country. No effort is too small as it relates to helping struggling families and communities get the resources they need to confront this crisis. In this broad, multi-faceted approach, prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) are an important tool at our disposal. That is why I am proud to support the Prescription Drug Monitoring Act, which will help keep millions of patients safe who use non-opioid medication. This bill will give doctors a better look at medications a patient is taking to ensure that any additional prescriptions will not adversely impact patients’ health,” Rep. Ryan said.

“As a former prosecutor, I have witnessed firsthand the devastation caused by opioid abuse in communities across the country. Our bipartisan legislation would require states to have prescription drug monitoring programs that use best practices, curbing the kind of doctor shopping that facilitates addiction. Last year, I heard about a patient who filled 108 prescriptions for painkillers from more than 85 different prescribers located in 50 cities. We know that opioid addiction too often begins with the abuse of legal prescription painkillers. And with this bill, we can do something about that. I look forward to working with Representatives Jenkins and Ryan to move our legislation forward,” Sen. Klobuchar said.

  “Four out of five heroin addicts in Ohio and across the country started with prescription painkillers. Too many of these people were prescribed a painkiller by their doctor and became addicted or tried a drug prescribed to someone else. In 2012, there were more opioid prescriptions in Ohio than there were Ohioans, and during just one three-month period, 11 percent of Ohioans were prescribed an opioid painkiller. Since then we’ve made progress in stopping overprescribing, but the consequences of addiction have only gotten worse. This legislation would help our country continue to make progress against overprescribing by keeping better track of prescriptions and ensuring that

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