WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) successfully secured major provisions in the text of the end-of-year government funding bill to help address the opioid epidemic and increase access to lower-cost generic medications.
Addressing the Opioid Epidemic
The text includes key pieces that Senator Hassan has pushed for to address the opioid epidemic:
- The bipartisan Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act eliminates an outdated requirement, the ‘x-waiver,’ that limits the number of medical practitioners who can prescribe life-saving medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. The bill was introduced by Senators Hassan and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) in the Senate and Representatives Paul D. Tonko (D-NY) and Michael Turner (R-OH) in the House.
- Provisions from Senator Hassan’s bipartisan bill to help address the severe shortage of doctors trained in addiction medicine. The government funding bill creates 200 new medical residency positions, including for addiction medicine, at teaching hospitals in New Hampshire and across the country.
“The opioid epidemic continues to devastate communities across New Hampshire, which is why I fought to ensure that the end-of-year funding bill includes measures I have long championed to increase access to treatment and expand the opioid workforce,” Senator Hassan said. “Importantly, this package includes my bill to expand access to medication-assisted treatment that has helped save countless lives. I look forward to joining with my colleagues to pass this legislation as soon as possible.”
Increasing Access to Generic Medications
The text of the government funding bill also includes bipartisan measures championed by Senator Hassan to streamline the FDA’s approval process for generic and biologic drugs and get them to market faster, which will help lower prescription drug costs across the board and increase the availability of key medications:
- The Senator’s bipartisan Interchangeable Biologics Clarity Act, which she introduced with Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), would more efficiently usher drugs to the market by making key improvements to the FDA’s review process for interchangeable biosimilars. Interchangeable biosimilars are drugs that can be substituted for an existing biologic and are prescribed to treat a wide variety of diseases and conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, and cancer.
- The Biologics Market Transparency Act, which Senator Hassan introduced with Senators Kaine, Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS), and Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), would increase transparency in the drug market by requiring manufacturers to share information with the FDA regarding when their biologic drugs are coming off the market—giving physicians and patients critical information that they need to make treatment decisions that are best for them, including helping plan for potential drug shortages.
- The bipartisan Enhanced Access to Affordable Medicines Act, which Senator Hassan introduced with Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), would prevent brand-name drug manufacturers from using last-minute labeling changes to block the entry of generic drugs onto the market.
“For too long, Big Pharma has worked to make it harder for Americans to access generic drugs that are often cheaper than their brand-name counterparts,” Senator Hassan said. “The bipartisan measures I fought to include in the government funding bill will help us stand up to Big Pharma and lower health care costs for Americans by speeding up the FDA’s approval process for critical medications.”
The Senate is expected to vote on the funding bill later this week.