Sherrod Brown applauds FDA action plan on opioids

Staff report

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) applauded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Opioids Action Plan announced last week.

“Opioid abuse has wreaked havoc on Ohio communities and across the country,” said Brown. “The FDA Action Plan is an important piece of our broad efforts to tackle this problem. By increasing its emphasis on abuse-deterrent formulations and committing to reassessing the Agency’s risk-benefit framework for future opioids, the FDA can help to ensure all future opioids are safer and carry less risk. The changes outlined today will build on the application process for opioids and develop new warnings and labeling information. These steps, along with the President’s budget request earlier this week, will give communities and physicians the tools they need to be partners in our efforts to end this epidemic.”

Today, the FDA announced several actions on opioids including: working more closely with its advisory committees before making critical product and labeling decisions; enhancing safety labeling; requiring new data; and seeking to improve treatment of both addiction and pain.

Earlier this week, the White House announced President Barack Obama included $1.1 billion in his fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget to help battle the prescription drug and heroin use epidemic nationwide.

Brown is the cosponsor of legislation to allow health care providers to treat larger numbers of patients struggling with addiction to opioids like painkillers and heroin. The Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment Act (TREAT Act) would update U.S. law to enable certified physicians to treat larger numbers of patients struggling with addiction and – for the first time – allow certain qualified nurse practitioners and physician assistants to provide supervised, medication-assisted treatment for patients.

Brown applauded news that CVS Health will make naloxone – the overdose reversing drug – available without a prescription at all Ohio CVS Pharmacy locations beginning in late March 2016. In October 2015, Brown joined his Senate colleagues in calling on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help schools trying to maintain a supply of naloxone for use in an opioid overdose emergency. The National Association of School Nurses recommends that school nurses facilitate access to naloxone in schools.

In Oct. 2015, President Obama announced national initiatives – which are aligned with Brown’s legislative priorities – to address prescription drug abuse and heroin use, including: enhanced prescriber training for Federal health care professionals and removing barriers to medication-assisted treatment for prescription drug abuse and heroin use. The Administration’s most recent initiative – draft guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – has received support from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Staff report