Committee approves bill to combat prescription drug abuse

The House Energy and Commerce Committee advanced bipartisan legislation on Tuesday that was introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) to help prevent prescription drug diversion and abuse.

The Ensuring Patient Access to Effective Drug Enforcement Act, which Blackburn introduced with Reps. Tom Marino (R-Pa.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Judy Chu (D-Calif.), would improve communication between drug makers, wholesalers, retail pharmacies and governmental agencies.

“Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic that is killing tens of thousands of Americans each year,” Blackburn, the vice chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said. “It is a problem that is greatly in need of a solution. However, simply acknowledging the epidemic of prescription drug abuse isn’t enough. Congress has a responsibility to make sure the law is crystal clear for both DEA and legitimate businesses who want to understand what the rules are so they can do the right thing.”

The measure would ensure that law enforcement action is taken against prescription drug abuse and diversion so industry stakeholders are shielded from disruptions in the prescription drug supply chain that could endanger patients.

Blackburn’s bill would also take steps to provide the prescription drug supply chain with more guidance and tools to respond to diversion and abuse.

The National Community Pharmacists Association, the Healthcare Distribution Management Association and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores all support the legislation.