Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

U.S. House Passes Buchanan Opioid Bill

Jun 20, 2018
Press Release

Creates Information Website for Patients and Families

Endorsed by Leading Drug Treatment Center

WASHINGTON – The U.S. House last night passed Congressman Vern Buchanan’s bipartisan proposal to create a national clearinghouse on the best ways for patients to manage pain and prevent opioid addiction.

“This is a long-overdue bill that creates a centralized source of information for patients and family members on the best practices to avoid opioid addiction,” Buchanan said. “It provides the information people need to manage their pain without risking addiction.”

The measure, which was included in a larger opioid package (HR 5774) co-sponsored by Buchanan now goes to the Senate for approval.

A longtime leader on confronting the opioid crisis, Buchanan said his legislation would help provide the most up to date information available to people who want to safely manage different types of pain without fear of opioid addiction.

Buchanan’s bill, the Centralized Opioid Guidance Act (HR 5777), has been endorsed by one of Florida’s leading drug treatment facilities, Centerstone, which has a major facility in Bradenton. 

Specifically, the legislation requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to create an easily accessible resource guide on its website where health care providers, seniors and others can access all federal opioid prescribing guidelines. The site would be available for anyone to access, not just those on Medicare. 

The federal government has published countless guidelines, studies and reports related to opioids but these documents are scattered across the websites of at least nine different federal agencies and offices within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 

Buchanan’s bill, which is not expected to have any cost, would centralize the information and make it easy to access.

The Centralized Opioid Guidance Act also addresses a key recommendation made by the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The commission recommended “that HHS coordinate the development of a national curriculum and standard of care for opioid prescribers.” 

The new centralized database will contain existing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines referenced by the President’s Commission, as well as dozens of new guidelines and reports mandated by the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016, and legislation currently making its way through Congress. Together, these guidelines and best practices will assist doctors and Medicare patients in making safe, medically appropriate decisions about how to treat pain.

The bill, co-sponsored by Democrat Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania, was applauded by Centerstone Behavioral Hospital and Addiction Center in Bradenton. 

“Centerstone applauds Representatives Buchanan and Lamb for their bipartisan leadership on the Centralized Opioid Guidance Act,” said Centerstone Florida CEO Melissa Larkin-Skinner. “Currently, it is difficult and time consuming to access trusted federal opioid prescribing guidelines. In requiring the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to post all relevant opioid prescribing guidelines in one online space, more patients and providers will be able to quickly seek out and reference the most up-to-date and trusted opioid prescribing guidelines. We trust this will make a difference not only for the Medicare population, but for all those seeking access to life-changing information."

Below are several examples of existing reports that will be added to the database: 

• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website contains guidance on prescribing opioids for chronic pain published in March 2016. 

• The National Institute on Drug Abuse’s website contains links to NIH-funded research on topics like opioid prescribing patterns after surgery and best practices for educating opioid users about their prescriptions. 

• The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has published an Education Blueprint for healthcare providers who treat and manage patients suffering from pain. 

According to a recent report by the Duke Margolis Center for Health Policy, “A practical first step in the development of safe prescribing strategies is developing standards or guidelines for what constitutes safe prescribing and appropriate pain management based on the best available evidence on the expected benefits and risks of opioid therapy.”

Buchanan has a long record in Congress working to address the opioid crisis.

In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration adopted Buchanan’s proposal to make it more difficult for abusers to obtain certain highly addictive narcotics. The government’s action followed the introduction of Buchanan's Pill Mill Crackdown Act of 2011.

Buchanan also co-sponsored legislation signed into law to reduce the flow of fentanyl coming into the country. And last year, Buchanan was successful in securing millions of dollars in funding for Southwest Florida to address the drug epidemic.

Two other Buchanan co-sponsored bills were approved by the House last week: the STOP Act requiring more intensive screening at U.S. Postal Service facilities and the SITSA Act to make it easier to outlaw deadly synthetic drugs and properly sentence convicted dealers. 

Earlier this year, Buchanan introduced a 7-point legislative package called the Opioid Emergency Response Act that includes a proposal to expand the search for alternatives to addictive opioids. The bill has been endorsed by Centerstone, Drug Free Manatee, the American College of Emergency Physicians, the National Board for Certified Counselors, the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, the Manatee, Sarasota and Hillsborough County Sheriffs, Manatee Memorial Hospital, Sarasota Memorial Hospital, the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, and the Manatee County Commission.