Newly Passed Bill Helps Change Perception of Opioid Epidemic

In July, in an overwhelming bipartisan vote, the U.S .Congress passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), sending the bill to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

On July 23, 2016 President Obama signed the bill into law. With grant programs and community support initiatives, the bill will provide local authorities with resources to combat the opioid abuse epidemic. More than that though, the law is intended to change the way drug abuse is perceived. 

Through public awareness campaigns, the epidemic will now be treated as a health issue, rather than a criminal one, an issue ONS has long advocated for

ONS continues to educate decision-makers on the importance of access to prescription medications for cancer patients. The public policy balancing act will require nurses to be vocal advocates for pain management, and as the most trusted healthcare providers, that is an important component in the fight for appropriate patient-centered care.

FDA Calls for Sweeping Review of Opioids Policies

The U.S. Congress is also asking federal agencies to review their specific procedures on the issue, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced that it has formulated a new action plan.

“Things are getting worse, not better, with the epidemic of opioid misuse, abuse, and dependence,” said FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, adding that “it’s time we all took a step back to look at what is working and what we need to change to impact this crisis.” 

Working with a variety of experts, the FDA will re-examine its procedures and offer new recommendations. Actions include

  • Expand the use of advisory committees to review and seek advice from external experts with opportunity for public input before approval of any new opioid that does not have abuse-deterrent formulations (ADFs).
  • Develop warnings and safety information for immediate-release opioid labeling.
  • Strengthen postmarket requirements to build evidence on the risks of misuse and abuse associated with long-term use of opioids and predictors of opioid addiction.
  • Update the Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (also known as REMS) program to train more prescribers on pain management and safe prescribing of opioid drugs.
  • Expand access to ADFs to discourage abuse and spur innovation and generic ADF product development.
  • Support better treatment, including access to overdose treatment, safer prescribing and use, and, ultimately, new classes of pain medications without the same risks as opioids.
  • Reassess the risk-benefit approval framework for opioid use to formally incorporate the broader public health impact of opioid abuse.

View the FDA’s opioids action plan at its website.