WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) joined Representatives Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) and Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) Wednesday to introduce the Reducing Unused Medications Act. The bill would allow prescriptions for opioid medications to be partially filled by pharmacists at the request of patients or doctors, reducing the number of unused painkillers.
More than 70 percent of adults who misuse prescription opioids get them from friends or relatives, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
“Law enforcement, health care and treatment experts in my district have consistently raised the diversion of prescription drugs to those for whom they were not prescribed, as a major contributor to the opiates epidemic in my state and around the country,” Stivers said. “I am pleased to join with Representative Clark and Senators Warren and Capito and to take another important step to prevent drug abuse and save lives.”
“Tackling the opioid abuse epidemic will be tough, but we can take an important step by reducing the number of pills in circulation,” said Warren. This bipartisan bill will empower patients and doctors to work together to determine appropriate pain treatment, while limiting the number of unused pills left in family medicine cabinets. It also gets the federal government out of the way and empowers states like Massachusetts to pursue additional prescribing policies that are the right local responses to this terrible crisis.”
“In order to fight the drug epidemic and save lives, we must pursue solutions on all fronts,” said Capito. “Allowing the partial filling of opioid prescriptions is one way we can reduce the drug supply and prevent unused prescriptions from ending up in the wrong hands. This bipartisan legislation will clarify federal policy, enable states to move forward with partial fill policies, and play a significant role in our broader effort to combat the drug crisis.”
“Millions of half-filled bottles of unused prescription drugs line our families’ medicine cabinets, and too often, that is where opioid addiction begins. The Reducing Unused Medications Act of 2016 empowers patients to manage their prescriptions responsibly and reduces the number of unused and unwanted painkillers that are fueling our nation’s opioid epidemic. Democrats and Republicans should come together to pass this bill and save lives,” Clark said.
Reducing the amount of unused prescription painkillers is a critical part of addressing the ongoing opioid abuse epidemic. Current Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulations permit drugs in schedules III, IV, and V to be partially filled, but the regulations are narrower and less clear for schedule II drugs, including prescription opioids. The Reducing Unused Medications Act will resolve any ambiguity and clear the way for states considering partial fill policies to act.