Bipartisan Bill to Combat Opioid Crisis Passes Senate with Ernst Support, Includes the Senator’s AIDD Act

 The U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018, which included Senator Joni Ernst’s (R-IA) legislation, Access to Increased Drug Disposal (AIDD) Act.

 “The U.S. Senate is responding to the opioid crisis in a meaningful and thoughtful way to help those struggling with this crippling epidemic. This a great step toward ensuring that Iowans, and all Americans, have access to treatment opportunities and community-based support programs to combat the opioid epidemic, all while providing much-needed flexibility at the state and local level. The AIDD Act, will help states increase the number of drug take-back programs,” said Senator Joni Ernst.

 The Opioid Crisis Response Act: funds the 21st Century Cures Act opioid grants through fiscal year 2021; helps expedite research related to substance abuse; provides treatment and recovery support services for patients with substance abuse problems; and, increases access to addiction treatment medications.

 As part of the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018, Iowa will continue to receive critical funding through the Opioid State Targeted Response Grants. Over the past two years, Iowa has been awarded over five million dollars in grant money and has used the funding to enhance infrastructure to address opioid misuse and increase awareness through statewide prevention efforts. Iowa has also used its grant funding to improve its Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, which is used by health care providers to track prescriptions and prevent misuse of prescription drugs.

 Senator Ernst’s AIDD Act which was included in the package, is designed to increase participation in federal prescription drug take-back programs to help combat prescription drug abuse and the growing opioid epidemic. It addresses the cost of participation by creating a demonstration program allowing five states to apply for grant funding from the Department of Justice. The selected states will then issue a report detailing how the grant funding was administered, which entities received funding, and how it impacted participation rates – providing additional insight into how best to improve the program and increase participation nationwide.

 “Unused and improperly disposed of medication increases the risk of abuse, misuse and diversion. The grants made available through AIDD will help health care settings, such as community pharmacies and clinics with an on-site pharmacy, implement disposal options for patients and their families,” said Dr. Kate Gainer, executive vice president and CEO of Iowa Pharmacy Association.

 “You’ll find unused meds sitting in medicine cabinets in practically every household in this country, which is why NCPA launched its Dispose My Meds program nearly 10 years ago. And yet, community pharmacies’ ability to take back controlled substances from patients is made difficult by a myriad regulations and costly disposal options. NCPA supports efforts to allow easier and safe disposal of excess opioids. That would go a long way toward stopping misuse, abuse, diversion, overdose, and even deaths. We applaud inclusion of the Access to Increased Drug Disposal Act as part of the Senate’s opioid package, and we look forward to continuing to collaborate in promoting the safe storage and disposal of medications,” said B. Douglas Hoey, CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association.

 “We are pleased that the Access to Increased Drug Disposal Act is included in the Opioid Crisis Response Act [that passed the Senate today]. The American Pharmacists Association appreciates Senator Ernst’s efforts to provide patients and families with more drug disposal options to help curb the opioid crisis plaguing our communities. Proper disposal of medication is an important component of combating the opioid epidemic by reducing the number of opioids in circulation and limiting access to those for whom the opioids were not prescribed. APhA is grateful for Senator Ernst’s help in reducing cost barriers for pharmacists and pharmacies who want to implement such programs to reduce the number of unwanted and unused drugs in patients’ home and the risk of their misuse or abuse,” said Alicia Kerry Mica of the American Pharmacists Association.