Jun 17 2011
U.S Representative Harold "Hal" Rogers (KY-05) has joined his colleagues in the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse in introducing bipartisan legislation to strengthen the battle against the nation’s fastest growing drug problem. The legislation is the first of its kind requiring prescribers to receive a minimum standard of education before issuing highly addictive pain medications.
“We are on the brink of losing a generation of young people to powerful prescription painkillers,” said Rogers. “Drug abuse kills about three people in our region every day, taking more lives than automobile accidents in Kentucky. Operation UNITE has made a huge positive impact in Southern and Eastern Kentucky through investigations, treatment and education and we have learned that one of our most powerful tools lies in education. Physicians need to be fully aware of the risks associated with the drugs they’re prescribing, and also be on the lookout for signs of addiction in their patients. This bill is an important step in the right direction.”
The Ryan Creedon Act of 2011 (H.R. 2119) was named after a young man in California, who suffered from a chronic addiction to OxyContin that ultimately resulted in his death. The bill would put in place new measures to ensure that prescribers of powerful pain medications receive a minimum standard of education before issuing the drugs. No such national standard currently exists.
Currently all doctors, dentists, physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners and others who prescribe controlled substances are first required to register with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and renew their registration every few years. This legislation would require healthcare professionals to initially be educated on the risks associated with controlled substances prior to DEA granting prescribing authorities.
“The lack of education on addiction and controlled substances in the medical community played a huge role in enabling my son’s disease of addiction, which resulted in his death,” said Kathy Creedon, Ryan Creedon’s mother. “It is time that doctors realize that a few words written on a prescription pad have the power to devastate lives. I feel the passing of this legislation is vital to bringing awareness to the epidemic of irresponsible prescribing and the impact it has on our communities. This bill has the ability to save lives.”
Rogers partnered with the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse Co-Chairs Mary Bono Mack (CA-45) and Stephen Lynch (MA-9) to introduce the legislation.
“Prescription drug abuse affects everyone in America, and the problem is only getting worse. Soon, drug overdose will be the leading cause of accidental death, and we need to take steps now to ensure that medical professionals who are devoted to helping and treating us are not unwittingly contributing to a much larger problem,” Bono Mack said. “This legislation takes the necessary steps to ensure that only doctors who are knowledgeable about the abuse and addiction risks of these powerful medications can prescribe them.”
“These are powerful and addictive drugs so it only makes sense that the medical professionals prescribing them would have some basic education and awareness of substance abuse. This bill ensures that those prescribing these pain medications have an understanding of how they can potentially impact their patients,” Congressman Lynch said. “While prescription drug abuse continues to have a devastating effect on communities and families across the country, this legislation will help in the fight against this epidemic.”
The Ryan Creedon Act, which would have no cost to taxpayers, would have the added benefit of combating a problem that studies now show costs the U.S. economy as much as some chronic illnesses such as Diabetes.
Rogers and Bono Mack established the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug abuse to shed light on the problem of prescription drug abuse and to unite like-minded policy-makers dedicated to the development of innovative and effective policy solutions. According to the DEA, illegal prescription drug diversion is now our nation’s fastest growing drug threat.
This influential, bipartisan coalition of legislators is also working together on the Oxy Abuse Act of 2011. The Stop Oxy Abuse Act (H.R. 1316) would revise FDA classifications to ensure that oxycodone painkillers are prescribed only for severe pain.