Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

U.S. Senate Passes Buchanan Opioid Bill

Oct 3, 2018
Press Release

President Expected to Sign

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate today passed Congressman Vern Buchanan’s bipartisan proposal to help reduce opioid addiction.

The measure now goes to the President’s desk for his signature.

A longtime leader on confronting the opioid crisis, Buchanan’s legislation would create a national database providing the most up to date information to people who want to safely manage pain without fear of opioid addiction.

“It’s encouraging to read today in USA Today that nearly 70 percent of physicians are prescribing fewer pain medications in light of the opioid crisis,” Buchanan said. “I hope my legislation gives doctors and patients the information they need to continue this positive trend.”

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 Congress in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016, and the broader opioid legislation that is expected to pass the House today. Together, these guidelines and best practices will assist doctors and Medicare patients in making safe, medically appropriate decisions about how to treat pain.

Buchanan’s 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.

The opioid package also includes the STOP Act, a bill co-sponsored by Buchanan to block shipments of deadly synthetic drugs coming into the United States.

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.