U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa has introduced a bill to further address the opioid epidemic.
The Democratic representative introduced the Preventing Pill Mills Through Data Sharing Act in partnership with Republican Rep. David McKinley of West Virginia. The bill seeks to require drug wholesalers that ship opioids to drug stores and clinics to take greater responsibility for reporting suspicious quantities to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
“Far too many families in Florida and across the country continue to struggle with opioid addiction, and the COVID-19 pandemic only has exacerbated this ongoing public health crisis,” Castor said in a news release. “Our bipartisan, bicameral bill will take the necessary steps to increase transparency and hold all companies and pharmacies on the supply chain accountable. Most importantly, it will go a long way in keeping our communities informed and ensure our neighbors are safe.”
The new legislation will require drug manufacturers and distributors to report the sale, delivery or other disposal of all controlled substances on a monthly, rather than quarterly basis, which is what current law requires. It will also extend the penalties and reporting requirements that currently apply to drug manufacturers and distributors to pharmacies.
The bill looks to enhance the way data is measured, allowing for the DEA to provide quarterly reports to manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies in a format and manner that better facilitates the identification of suspicious orders. It expands the reporting requirements to include unusual volumes of controlled substances that are disposed of rather than sold, and unusual numbers of deleted transactions of high volumes of controlled substances.
The DEA must provide the same reports to Congress that it provides states every six months.
“While Congress has been rightly focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid epidemic has not gone away. In fact, across the country overdose deaths have only increased,” McKinley said in a news release. “West Virginia is all too familiar with the opioid epidemic. In the past millions of prescription drugs flooded into our communities and ripped families apart by the horrors of addiction.”
This legislation builds on the work of Castor’s Using Data to Prevent Opioid Diversion Act, which was signed into law in 2018.
Senators Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Grassley, Shelley Moore Capito and Dick Durbin have previously introduced a companion bill in the Senate.