Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Votes to Help Fight Opioid Crisis, Calls to Hold Big Pharma Accountable

June 22, 2018
Press Release

Washington, DCRep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) helped pass 19 bills in the U.S. House of Representatives this week to address the opioids crisis in Hawai‘i and across the country. Among other measures, the bills take action to:

  • Require CHIP to cover mental health and substance use disorders (H.R.3192),

  • Expand telehealth coverage for substance use disorders (H.R. 6),

  • Allow the FDA to order opioid-producing companies to change how they package and dispose of drugs (H.R.5687),

  • Require electronic prescribing under Medicare Part D (H.R. 6),

  • Increase federal funding for states that implement a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) and use it in coordination with other states (H.R. 5801),

  • Expand Medicare services, such as medication-assisted treatment, substance-use counseling, therapy, and toxicology testing, and more (H.R. 6),

  • Require doctors to screen for substance use disorders during a Medicare beneficiary’s initial physical exam (H.R. 6),

  • Create an action plan to develop recommendations for Medicare and Medicaid to improve coverage of necessary services, payment and service delivery, data collection, and access to care in rural communities (H.R. 5590),

  • Require HHS to review Medicare payments to ensure no financial incentives exist to prescribe opioids instead of non-opioid alternative (H.R.6110),

  • Require HHS to provide guidance for hospitals on pain management strategies and non-opioid alternatives (H.R. 5774), and

  • Require Medicare plans to disclose risks of prolonged opioid use, identify non-opioid alternatives, and require safe disposal of controlled substances (H.R. 5775).

 

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said: “While Washington provides a band aid for a bullet wound, people in Hawai‘i and communities nationwide are battling an ever-worsening opioid epidemic that takes tens of thousands of lives each year. The bills we passed this week help provide more transparency into the dangers and addictive-nature of opioids through education, training, and outreach, and more. However, these bills fail to address the root of this epidemic-- big pharma continuing their deception and lies to earn a greater profit off their highly addictive and dangerous opioid drugs. We must pass the Opioid Crisis Accountability Act to empower prosecutors to hold Big Pharma accountable.”

 

Background: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has continued to call for nationwide action to combat the opioid epidemic, including condemning Big Pharma’s role in proliferating the opioid epidemic, pushing for consideration of medical marijuana as a pain management alternative to opioids, and more. The congresswoman has also introduced bipartisan legislation (H.R. 1227) to federally decriminalize marijuana. She has cosponsored legislation such as the STOP OD Act (H.R.664), the Road to Recovery Act (H.R. 2938), the Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act (H.R. 1245), and the Community Action Opioid Response Act (H.R. 5124). The congresswoman also recently joined lawmakers and the National Community Action Foundation (NCAF) in an opioid-related forum to discuss harnessing the power, skills, and experience of Hawai‘i and national community leaders to combat the ongoing opioid epidemic.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard introduced the Opioid Crisis Accountability Act of 2018 (H.R. 5782) to hold drug companies and executives accountable for profiting from the opioid epidemic by:

  • Prohibiting and penalizing illegal marketing and distribution of opioids;

  • Creating criminal liability for top company executives;

  • Requiring drug makers to reimburse an HHS-led “Opioid Reimbursement Fund” for the negative economic impact of their products;

  • Reducing market exclusivity of drug companies who illegally advertise, market or distribute opioids; and

  • Prohibiting manufacturers who violate this act from receiving certain tax credits while establishing contemporaneous tax penalties.

 

The Opioid Crisis Accountability Act of 2018 is endorsed by several health and safety organizations, including Public Citizen, CREDO, American Medical Student Association (AMSA), National Collaborative for Health Equity, and Prescription Justice.

 

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