Efforts to curb prescription opioid misuse move forward in the wake of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) of 2016—a sweeping piece of legislation that addresses several aspects of the American opioid epidemic. The legislation is meant to, among other things:
- Expand Access to Addiction Treatment Services
- Strengthen Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs)
- Amend Opioid Prescribing Practices
- Increase Naloxone Availability
The CARA bill was supported by the majority of lawmakers on both sides of the political landscape. While there are some flaws, such as a lack of funding to bring everything the legislation calls for to fruition, its adoption has been widely hailed as a success and good start in the fight to save lives. The opioid epidemic in the United States claims as many as 78 American lives every day, making such measures of paramount importance.
The passing of CARA was a clear sign that lawmakers are willing to change how they think to save lives and help stem the insidious tide of addiction. However, you may find it troubling to learn that many doctors are resistant to being told how to prescribe and who should be prescribed painkillers. Currently, all but one state has some form of PDMP, yet in many states such tools are egregiously underutilized by physicians. It begs the question: Are doctors not interested to know which patients are gaming the system to abuse prescription opioids? Do they not want to know which patients may be in need of addiction treatment services?
Well, the choice may not be theirs to make any longer, in light of new legislation that has been proposed in the Senate. Recently, a bipartisan group of Senators introduced the Prescription Drug Monitoring Act, according to a press release. The bill was co-sponsored by Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Angus King of Maine.
“The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act is a solid start in launching a broad effort to combat our nation’s opioid epidemic,” said Senator Manchin. “But we must take additional steps to ensure that the federal government’s approach to this epidemic is as comprehensive as possible. The Prescription Drug Monitoring Act goes a step beyond CARA to ensure that states are sufficiently monitoring the prescription drugs within their borders and are communicating with one another to encourage collaboration. This is a crucial step towards establishing a comprehensive approach for putting an end to the opioid epidemic.”