News Releases

During efforts to address the crisis, Senator Murray has heard from families and communities across Washington state directly affected by it

Proposals are the result of 6 bipartisan hearings on opioid crisis with FDA, NIH, CDC, SAMHSA, governors, experts, and families

Draft comes on the heels of recent opioid response package in bipartisan spending deal which supported state and local programs

(Washington, D.C.)  – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate health committee, and committee chairman Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), released a discussion draft of bipartisan legislation to address the opioid crisis and announced the committee would hold a hearing on the draft legislation Wednesday, April 11th.

The draft follows Senator Murray’s efforts to hear from families and communities on the frontlines of the opioid crisis throughout Washington state. In her efforts to bring their concerns to the policy making table Senator Murray has visited with hospitals facing the epidemic in Longview, families and community leaders in Everett, held events with people all across Washington state impacted by the opioid crisis, and shared their stories at a series of bipartisan committee hearings in Washington D.C.

“Travelling across Washington state, I’ve heard firsthand from families and communities grappling with the devastation of the opioid epidemic. They are demanding, and they deserve, additional serious federal action to support and strengthen the incredible efforts I’ve seen from Washingtonians working at hospitals, shelters, schools, and communities on the frontlines of the opioid crisis. By working together, listening to researchers, officials, experts, and families facing the crisis, and pulling in ideas from both sides of the aisle—we have been able to take an important step with this legislation toward addressing the wide set of challenges caused by the opioid epidemic. I look forward to getting input on this discussion draft and am hopeful that we can continue working together to get this bill signed into law as an important step forward in our work to tackle this crisis for families in Washington state and across the nation,” said Senator Murray.

The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 will improve the ability of the federal government  to address the crisis, including the ripple effects of the crisis on children, families, and communities, and improve data sharing between states. This discussion draft is the result of months of hearings as well as input and language from Senators on both sides of the aisle.

The proposals build on past bipartisan efforts led by Senator Murray to provide resources to communities facing the opioid epidemic like the 21st Century Cures Act, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, and the opioid response funding package in the recent bipartisan spending deal.

The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 will:

  • Spur development of non-addictive painkillers, and other strategies to prevent, treat, and manage pain and substance use disorders through additional flexibility for the NIH and clarifying guidance from the FDA.
  • Encourage responsible prescribing behavior by clarifying FDA authority to require packaging options for certain drugs, such as opioids to allow a set treatment duration, for example “blister packs,” for patients who may only need a 3 or 7 day supply of opioids.
  • Clarify FDA authorities to require manufacturers to give patients simple and safe options to dispose of unused opioids.
  • Improve detection and seizure of illegal drugs, such as fentanyl, through stronger FDA and Customer Border Protection coordination.
  • Clarify FDA’s development and regulatory pathways for medical product manufacturers through guidance for new non-addictive and non-opioid pain products.
  • Provide support for states to improve their Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) and encourage data sharing between states so doctors and pharmacies can know if patients have a history of substance misuse.
  • Strengthen the health care workforce to increase access to mental health services in schools and to substance use disorder treatment in underserved areas.  
  • Authorize CDC’s work to combat the opioid crisis, including providing grants for states, localities, and tribes to collect data and implement key prevention strategies.
  • Address the effects of the opioids crisis on infants, children, and families, including by helping states improve plans of safe care for infants born with neonatal abstinence syndrome and helping to address child and youth trauma.
  • Authorize the Department of Labor to address the economic and workforce impacts for communities affected by the opioid crisis, through grants targeted at workforce shortages for the substance use and mental health treatment workforce, and to align job training and treatment services.
  • Update Drug Enforcement Administration regulations to improve treatment access for patients in rural and underserved areas through telemedicine, while maintaining proper safeguards.
  • Allow hospice programs to safely and properly dispose of unneeded controlled substances to help reduce the risk of diversion and misuse.

Click here for the text of the discussion draft, and here for a summary.

The Committee requests comments on the draft legislation from interested stakeholders by April 11th, 2018 at HelpFightsOpioids@help.senate.gov.