E&C’s Opioid Week in Review


WASHINGTON, DC – Combating the opioid crisis was once again at the top of the docket for the Energy and Commerce Committee this week. Driving the committee’s efforts this week were two subcommittee hearings and a #FullCmte markup.

Wall Street Journal: Opioid shipments to small towns come under spotlight at hearing.
Washington Post: Drug executives express regret over opioid crisis, one tells Congress his company contributed to the epidemic.
CBS News: Major drug distributors downplay contribution to opioid crisis in testimony before Congress.
CNN: House panel grills wholesale drug distributors on West Virginia opioid ‘pill dumping’.
NBC News: West Virginia lawmaker rips Big Pharma execs on opioids: ‘I just want you to feel shame’.
Dayton Daily News: Did drug distributors contribute to opioid crisis? Yes, says local exec.
Columbus Business Journal: Cardinal Health’s George Barrett apologizes for massive opioid shipments to W.Va.
Politico: Members mostly support Mullin’s behavioral health privacy overhaul.
Washington Times: House panel advances dozens of opioid bills.

On Monday, the Department of Justice announced a record collection of unused medications as part of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) 15th Annual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. In total, DEA officials collected nearly one million pounds, or nearly 475 tons, of pills across 6,000 collection sites.

Energy and Commerce Committee members once again raised awareness about this important opportunity, participated in local efforts, and highlighted the successful collection.

Hearings kicked off on Tuesday morning, when #SubOversight questioned the leadership of national and regional dug distributors in regard to the committee’s bipartisan investigation into opioid distribution practices, particularly alleged pill dumping in West Virginia.

During his line of questioning, #SubOversight Chairman Gregg Harper (R-MS) posed a simple and straightforward question to all five executives – “Do you believe that the actions that you or your company took contributed to the opioid epidemic?”

Of the five executives, only one said he believed his company’s actions had played a role in the opioid crisis. That executive was Dr. Joseph Mastandrea, Chairman of the Board, Miami-Luken, Inc.

Tuesday afternoon, #SubHealth held a hearing to review a discussion draft of the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act, legislation to address an outdated law that impedes patient care and safety.

In his testimony to #SubHealth, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) stated, “Simply put, an antiquated law prevents lifesaving medical care for patients in recovery for substance use disorders. Originally designed to protect the privacy of individuals in addiction treatment, this decades-old barrier now creates an impediment to delivery of integrated medical care.”

On Wednesday, the #FullCmte met for the first of two scheduled markups on legislation to combat the opioid crisis. The #FullCmte passed 25 bills, by voice vote, as part of the committee’s comprehensive approach to fight the epidemic.

“We know there is no silver bullet, no one-size-fits-all approach that will remedy the catastrophic effects of this crisis over the last decade. But much can be done to help vulnerable patients get the treatment they want and need, and to ensure these powerful drugs are not getting into the wrong hands,” said #FullCmte Chairman Walden. “These bills will help protect our communities and bolster enforcement efforts, strengthen our prevention and public health efforts, and address coverage and payment issues in Medicare.”

Also on Wednesday, the committee announced a new video series – “Personal Stories from the Opioid Crisis.” The video series highlights individuals and families that participated in the committee’s recent roundtable discussion, and which have struggled with or lost loved ones to substance abuse.

Earlier today, the committee released the second video in the series. The video features Aimee Manzoni D’Arpino, who tells the story of her son’s battle with substance use disorder. Aimee’s son, Emmett, fatally overdosed on heroin in 2016.

Discussing the scope of the opioid crisis, Aimee explained that Emmett wasn’t “a junkie, an addict, he wasn’t a bad kid. He was a good kid that had a disease.”

To learn more about Energy and Commerce’s comprehensive efforts to combat the opioid crisis, click HERE.