Gardner’s bipartisan proposal would restrict opioid prescriptions to 7 days

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) this month cosponsored bipartisan legislation to limit initial opioid prescriptions for acute pain to seven days, a proposal that aims to end the misuse of such drugs by some two million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“As I’ve met with Coloradans impacted by the opioid epidemic, the recurring story is clear. Oftentimes, the first over prescription spurs the devastating path of addiction,” Sen. Gardner said on March 15. “Over prescriptions for pain management have allowed the opioid crisis to hit every corner of our communities and this common sense legislation establishes the appropriate protections to help prevent addiction in the first place.” 

The John S. McCain Opioid Addiction and Prevention Act, S. 724, sponsored on March 7 by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), would amend the Controlled Substances Act to establish additional registration requirements for opioid prescribers, according to the congressional record summary of the bill.

“Too many families throughout New York and our country have suffered from the devastating consequences of the opioid epidemic. No community has been left untouched, and we need to be proactive when it comes to ending this crisis,” said Sen. Gillibrand. 

Steven Anderson, president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS), said such a seven-day limit would be consistent with pharmacists’ recommendations and his organization supports the bill.

“Six-in-10 Americans support this measure, with only two-in-10 indicating opposition, according to a January 2019 Morning Consult poll commissioned by NACDS,” Anderson said. “This bill will help prevent addiction and help prevent unused medications from falling into the wrong hands.”

If enacted, S. 724 would require medical professionals to certify, as a part of their Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) registration, that they won’t prescribe an opioid as an initial treatment for acute pain in an amount that exceeds a seven-day supply and they won’t provide a refill, according to a summary of the bill provided by the lawmakers. 

Current federal law requires them to register with the DEA to prescribe a controlled substance in the United States and the registration must be renewed every three years, according to the summary.

S. 724 is modeled on laws in 15 states that currently limit initial opioid prescriptions for acute pain, said the lawmakers.  

The bill has been referred for consideration to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.