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Walden at AEI Discussion Talks Congress’ Efforts to Combat the Opioid Epidemic


"Seldom in this job do you get to say you’re going to save lives. I think this legislation will save lives."

Photo credit John Boal © American Enterprise Institute

Click HERE to watch Chairman Walden’s conversation at AEI.

WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) headlined a discussion at AEI titled, “Navigating the evolving opioid crisis: A conversation with House Committee on Energy and Commerce Republican Leader Greg Walden.”

The conversation began by revisiting historic legislation passed last Congress to combat the crisis, H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, and how it’s already making significant impacts in the fight against opioids. Walden also highlighted the need to together to conduct bipartisan oversight of the SUPPORT Act’s implementation to make sure it is working as intended and to see what more we can do to combat this evolving crisis.

Specifically, Walden discussed two pieces of legislation that were included in the House-passed version of the SUPPORT Act, but ultimately not included in the final package that became law.  First, the Stop the Importation & Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues (SITSA) Act, which would have given law enforcement the tools they need to help get illicit synthetic drugs, like fentanyl, off our streets without compromising important public health and research protections.  Second, the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act.  When dealing with person with substance use disorders (SUD) providers are often unaware of the risks to their patient from multiple drug interactions and co-existing medical problems.  This bill would put the protection of substance use disorder records under HIPAA instead of 42 CFR Part 2, thereby enabling medical professionals to access that information when treating patients.

Walden also noted two recent announcements regarding the SUPPORT Act’s implementation, including key actions taken by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require drug companies to study whether prescription opioids are effective in addressing chronic pain as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) launch of a new tool to help more than 1,500 drug manufacturers and distributors nationwide more effectively identify, report, and stop suspicious orders of opioids and reduce diversion rates.

Another topic of discussion was E&C’s 18-month bipartisan investigation into opioid distributors, which was concluded at the end of the 115th Congress, as well as the legislative recommendations from our Republican staff report.

Walden also highlighted the recent formal request of Chairman Pallone that the committee continue its bipartisan work to help combat the opioid crisis, specifically the continuation of the committee’s investigations into opioid manufacturers and patient brokering.

To view the entire AEI event, click here.