May 15, 2018

Senator Hassan Introduces Legislation to Help Prevent Diversion of Opioids, Crack Down on Bad Actors in the Pharmaceutical Industry

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan introduced legislation yesterday to help prevent the diversion of opioids, which is exacerbating the devastating fentanyl, heroin, and opioid crisis in New Hampshire and across the country. The Preventing Drug Diversion Act would crack down on bad actors in the pharmaceutical industry by strengthening the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) system for addressing suspicious orders of opioid-based prescription drugs from drug distributors and increasing penalties for bad actors in the pharmaceutical industry that fail to report suspicious orders to the DEA. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a vote on this bill.

The bill follows an investigation from 60 Minutes and the Washington Post last fall that highlighted concerns about drug distributors flooding small towns across the country with outsized orders of prescription opioids and the DEA’s failure to adequately address the issue. Senator Hassan spoke out about the need to strengthen law enforcement’s ability to go after reckless opioid distributors responsible for such suspicious orders on 60 Minutes.

“It is critical that the DEA has the tools necessary to address suspicious orders of opioids and crack down on reckless opioid distributors that are putting the health and safety of our communities at risk,” Senator Hassan said. “By strengthening the DEA’s system for drug distributors to report suspicious orders of opioid-based prescription drugs and increasing penalties for drug companies that fail to report suspicious opioid orders, the Preventing Drug Diversion Act will help ensure that law enforcement agencies are able to hold drug distributors accountable for helping fuel this deadly epidemic. We know that in addition to supporting law enforcement, we must also continue working to boost our prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts. I will continue working to implement a comprehensive strategy to stem – and ultimately reverse – the tide of this deadly epidemic that is taking innocent lives every single day.”

After speaking with state law enforcement officials who raised concerns that they did not have the information necessary to help stop bad actors, Senator Hassan included language requiring DEA to share suspicious order reports with states.

“Stopping this epidemic requires a partnership between state and local law enforcement officials. Sharing this suspicious ordering data will help states use their own laws to stop bad actors,” Senator Hassan said.

The existing system for addressing suspicious orders of prescription drugs needs improvements. Drug distributors are currently supposed to report suspicious orders to DEA field offices, but the agency has no centralized way of collecting and analyzing these reports. Drug companies’ compliance with these reporting requirements has been inconsistent. And states have had difficulty accessing DEA’s data to help enforce their own laws.

To address these issues, the Preventing Drug Diversion Act would:

 

  • Improve and expand drug companies’ reporting of suspicious orders to the DEA
  • Clarify the definition of suspicious orders
  • Create a centralized database at the DEA to collect and analyze suspicious order reports
  • Increase penalties on drug companies that fail to report suspicious orders
  • Share drug and suspicious order data with states to help enforce state laws
  • Require the DEA to report to Congress on efforts to address suspicious orders

 

For bill text, click here.

 

As part of her efforts to combat the opioid crisis, hold the pharmaceutical industry accountable, and help strengthen law enforcement’s ability to go after reckless opioid distributors, Senator Hassan also helped introduce legislation to repeal the 2016 law that restricted the ability of the DEA to crack down on opioid distributors suspected of wrongdoing. Additionally, the Senator joined colleagues in introducing legislation to slow the revolving door between the pharmaceutical industry and federal agencies.

 

 

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