July 14, 2016

Warren, Capito, Alexander, Bennet, Clark, Stivers Applaud Incorporation of Reducing Unused Medications Act in Final Passage of Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation

Provision will allow for the Partial Filling of Opioid Prescriptions

Washington, DC - Today, United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Representatives Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) and Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) applauded the inclusion of language in the Reducing Unused Medications Act as part of the final passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). This provision, originally introduced in February of this year with bipartisan, bicameral support, will allow partial filling of Schedule II opioid prescriptions. CARA, which passed the Senate today, will now will be sent to the President's desk to be signed into law.

"I'm very glad that Congress took a step in the right direction toward addressing the opioid abuse epidemic by including this provision to reduce the number of pills in circulation. This bipartisan language will empower patients and doctors to work together to determine appropriate pain treatment, while limiting the number of unused pills left in family medicine cabinets. It will also get the federal government out of the way and empower states like Massachusetts to pursue additional prescribing policies that are the right local responses to this terrible crisis," Senator Warren said.

"To prevent opioid medications from ending up in the wrong hands, we need to reduce drug diversion. The Reducing Unused Medications Act will scale back the misuse of pain killers and provide more clarity to states as they move forward with partial fill policies. I am glad that this legislation will become law as part of our continued efforts to curb America's drug epidemic," said Senator Capito.

"This new law will help combat prescription drug abuse and overdose by expressly permitting pharmacists to only fill part of so-called ‘schedule II' drugs like prescription opioids. I thank Senator Warren for her leadership on this issue to bring much need clarity to states and local communities working hard to fight this growing epidemic," Chairman Alexander said.

"Our country is in the midst of an opioid addiction crisis, and we need to take immediate steps to help reduce prescription drug abuse," Senator Bennet said. "This bipartisan bill takes commonsense steps to reduce the number of unused prescription painkillers and keep them out of the hands of those who may abuse them."

"Millions of half-filled bottles of unused prescription drugs line our families' medicine cabinets, and too often, that is where opioid addiction begins," said Congresswoman Clark. "I'm grateful for the partnership with Senator Warren to bring Congress together to reduce the number of unused and unwanted painkillers that are fueling our nation's opioid epidemic. Bipartisan passage of this national opioid reform package is an important step in saving lives; however, the job is not complete until Congress fully funds our nation's response to this deadly epidemic. Republicans and Democrats should continue working together to secure the funding needed to help our communities."

"I'm excited that our provision will become law," Congressman Stivers said. "It will help reduce drug abuse by reducing the amount of unused opioids in medicine cabinets around the country. This provision is one piece of the puzzle to address our opioid addiction epidemic."

The legislation sponsored by Warren, Capito, Clark and Stivers that passed today as part of CARA will allow prescriptions for Schedule II opioid medications to be partially filled by pharmacists at the request of patients or doctors, reducing the number of unused painkillers in circulation. More than 70 percent of adults who misuse prescription opioids get them from friends or relatives, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Reducing the amount of unused prescription painkillers is a critical part of addressing the ongoing opioid abuse epidemic. Current Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulations permit drugs in Schedules III, IV, and V to be partially filled, but the regulations are narrower and less clear for schedule II drugs, including prescription opioids. This legislation will resolve any ambiguity and clear the way for states that are considering partial fill policies to act.