Rothfus Naloxone Amendment Included in House Opioid Legislation

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Congressman Keith Rothfus [PA-12] today supported legislation passed in the House to ensure that health care professionals have access to up-to-date guidelines and best practices for treating patients with acute and chronic pain.  The bill contained Congressman Rothfus’ bipartisan amendment requiring the inter-agency task force, as part of its review and update of best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication, to also take into consideration the practice of co-prescribing naloxone, the lifesaving opioid reversal drug.

H.R. 4641 would establish a Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force including representatives from federal agencies, state medical boards, health care professionals, and experts from both pain and addiction recovery communities. It would review and, if necessary, update best practices for acute and chronic pain management in a transparent and evidence-based manner.

“The bill we passed today is another important step toward giving communities the tools they need to end the deadly opioid epidemic,” said Congressman Rothfus. “With today’s vote, fundamental elements contained in my bill, the Co-Prescribing Saves Lives Act of 2016, were included in the final passage of H.R. 4641. This brings us another step closer to solving the opioid crisis.”

Increased access to naloxone, particularly for high-risk patients, has been identified as one of the most effective ways to reduce the number of opioid and heroin-related overdose deaths. This drug is both a safe and effective antidote and has been used successfully to counteract more than 26,000 overdoses between 1996 and 2014. Both Rothfus’ amendment in the bill passed today and his Co-Prescribing Saves Lives Act (H.R. 4841) aim to make this lifesaving treatment available to individuals when appropriate.

The passage of today’s bill is part of a broader bipartisan effort in the House of Representatives to respond to the growing opioid epidemic spreading across the country.  In 2014, almost 2 million Americans were living with a substance use disorder involving prescription opioids, and there were almost 19,000 overdose deaths related to such pain relievers.

While opioid pain medications can benefit certain patients with acute and chronic pain, the number of prescriptions has significantly increased in recent years. In 2012, 260 million opioid prescriptions were written in the U.S., outpacing the number of American adults by 20 million. Opioid abuse often leads to heroin abuse.

H.R. 4641 takes steps to address some of the root causes of the opioid epidemic by ensuring providers have accurate, evidence-based information to treat patients with pain while minimizing the potential for development of substance abuse disorder and overdose when prescribing opioids.