2. Opioids: 34 bills, 6 lawsuits, 1 new treatment
The policy and political response to the opioid epidemic is plowing ahead on all fronts.
In Congress: The House Energy and Commerce Committee is meeting this morning to mark up 34 bills to address the opioid crisis, after unanimously advancing another 25 opioid bills last week.
A full list and summary of each bill is available here. Many of them are pretty minor — simply asking for studies or reports — but here are some of the substantive highlights of what these bills would do:
- Allow more providers to prescribe medication-assisted therapy, and ensure they can treat more patients.
- Allow Medicaid to pay for up to a month of care in large mental health treatment facilities.
- Require more prescription monitoring in Medicaid.
- Give the FDA more power to seize shipments of illegal drugs at the border.
Meanwhile, the Ways and Means Committee passed its own opioid measures yesterday, including this one designed to stop shipments of fentanyl and other illegal drugs. Sen. Rob Portman, however, complained that it's a "weaker alternative" to a bill he sponsored.
In the administration: Yesterday, the FDA approved Lucemyra, the first non-opioid product to treat the symptoms of opioid withdrawal.
In the courts: Earlier this week, attorneys general in six states — Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas — filed new lawsuits against Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin.
- The suits were all filed in state courts, per USA Today, making them separate from the federal claims that have been consolidated before a judge in Cleveland.
- Also this week, documents were unsealed that reveal the federal government is participating in a lawsuit against Insys over the way it marketed opioids. Bloomberg Law has more.