September 06, 2017

Warren and Capito Press FDA, Governors, and Medical Organizations to Implement New Partial Fill Law in Battle Against National Opioid Crisis

The Bipartisan Reducing Unused Medications Act Can Help Decrease Number of Unused Pills in Circulation, Stem the Growth of Substance Misuse, Diversion and Overdose

Text of the letter to FDA Commissioner Gottlieb (PDF)
Text of the letters to Governors (PDF)
Text of the letters to Medical Member Organizations (PDF)
Text of the letter to Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) today wrote to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, governors across the country, and 11 national medical member organizations, urging them to utilize provisions of the Reducing Unused Medications Act in their efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. Introduced by Senators Warren and Capito, the bipartisan bill passed in 2016 as part of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. As a result of the senators' work, federal law now allows prescriptions for Schedule II opioid medications, such as OxyContin and Vicodin, to be partially filled by pharmacists at the request of patients or doctors, reducing the number of unused painkillers in circulation.

"Encouraging prescribers to embrace the partial fill option for their patients can help to reduce the number of opioids left over in homes across the country," wrote the senators to FDA Commissioner Gottlieb. They requested that the FDA's Opioid Policy Steering Committee "consider how the new partial fill law may help advance the FDA's goals of better managing the risk of opioids and requiring greater prescriber education."

In their letter to governors, the senators wrote, "As public officials work together to address the opioid epidemic, we must continue to build partnerships, take creative approaches, and look for every opportunity - big or small - to implement policies that prevent addiction and save lives."

In addition to addressing letters to 48 governors, Senator Capito sent a separate letter to West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, and Senator Warren sent a letter to the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Senator Warren asked Commissioner Monica Bharel of Massachusetts to describe the status of partial fill implementation in the Commonwealth, strategies for increasing awareness of the new policies among the general public and health care professionals, and additional federal efforts that would help in limiting the amount of unused medications in homes.

Additional letters were sent to the leaders of 11 national medical member organizations that play a critical role in reducing the number of unused medications that wind up in bathroom cabinets across the country. "We hope that you encourage your members to embrace partial filling options, which encourages honest conversations between patients and their doctors about their pain, as well as how much medication they feel comfortable having in the home," wrote the senators.

The organizations included the National Community Pharmacists Association, the American Association Medical Colleges (AAMC), the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, the American Academy of Pain Medicine, the American Dental Education Association, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the American Pharmacists Association, and the American Dental Association.