May 11, 2017

Bipartisan Measures Authored, Cosponsored by Senator Hassan Approved by Senate HELP Committee

Bipartisan Measures Authored, Cosponsored by Senator Hassan Approved by Senate HELP Committee

Opioid Addiction Risk Transparency Act Would Help Ensure Health Care Providers Understand Addiction Risks of "Abuse-Deterrent" Opioids

Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act Would Help Lower Costs for Older Americans and Others Who Experience Hearing Loss

WASHINGTON - Today, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved a bipartisan bill authored by Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), the Opioid Addiction Risk Transparency Act. The committee also approved the bipartisan Over-the-Counter (OTC) Hearing Aid Act, which Senator Hassan cosponsored with three of her colleagues. Both bills were included in the committee's markup of the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017.

Opioid Addiction Risk Transparency Act

The bipartisan Opioid Addiction Risk Transparency Act, which Senator Hassan introduced with Senator Todd Young (R-IN), takes important steps to help ensure that health care providers understand the addiction risks of "abuse-deterrent" opioids so that they can properly communicate those risks to their patients.

"We know that the heroin, fentanyl, and opioid crisis that is devastating families, businesses, and communities across New Hampshire stems in large part from the overprescribing of opioids," Senator Hassan said. "I am glad that the HELP Committee approved this bipartisan bill to help ensure that providers and patients are aware of the addiction risks of abuse-deterrent opioids. I will continue working across the aisle to strengthen prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts and to support law enforcement on the front lines of this epidemic so that we can stem the tide of addiction in the Granite State and help save lives."

Abuse-deterrent drugs contain the same addictive ingredients as opioids in other formulations. However, many health care providers are not made aware of the fact that abuse-deterrent opioids are no less addictive than opioid products without such abuse-deterrent properties. This bill strongly encourages the FDA to require drug manufacturers to include information about the risk of addiction from abuse-deterrent drugs in manufacturers' communications plans to help manage known risks related to opioids as part of the FDA's Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) program.

Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act

The bipartisan Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 was also approved by the HELP Committee today. This legislation would make certain types of hearing aids available over the counter to Granite Staters and Americans with mild to moderate hearing impairment. Senator Hassan introduced the legislation with Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Johnny Isakson (R-GA).

"Making some hearing aids available over-the-counter is a bipartisan solution that can help encourage innovation in the market and bring real cost savings to older Americans and others who experience hearing loss," Senator Hassan said. "The committee's approval of this common-sense measure is a significant step forward, and I will continue working with members of both parties to make affordable, over-the-counter hearing aids a reality."

The Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 has received endorsements from leading organizations representing seniors, consumers, and hearing health professionals including the AARP, the Gerontological Society of America, the Hearing Loss Association of America, Consumers Union, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, the Center for Medicare Advocacy, the American Federation of Teachers, and the Academy of Doctors of Audiology.