Last week, the House passed a series of bills aimed to combat opioid addiction in the United States. The legislation includes a range of provisions to address the epidemic, including expanded access to addiction treatment, the requirement of reports on best pain management and opioid prescribing practices, partial fills of opioid prescriptions, and Special Advisory Panels to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for consideration of abuse deterrent formulations. The House bills will now move on to conference with the Senate, which passed companion opioid legislation—the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act—in March.
While the House opioid legislation passed with strong bipartisan support, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) raised funding concerns, expressing the need for additional investment to implement the House’s proposed measures.
ASCO believes in the vital importance of physician-patient discussions on the benefits and risks of opioids, and of providing education on proper pain assessment, management of patients with substance abuse issues, alternatives to opioid pain management, and pain management in the context of end-of-life care. ASCO has been working with lawmakers to ensure federal efforts to address these issues do not impede cancer patient access to pain management—a concern expressed by ASCO members—and is in the process of reviewing the opioid-passed legislation in its entirety.
The Society will continue to monitor the issue and provide updates on ASCO in Action.