Sarbanes Bill to Address Opioid Overdose Epidemic Passes U.S. House of Representatives

The Co-Prescribing to Reduce Overdoses Act Will Help Expand Access to Overdose Reversal Drugs
May 11, 2016
CONTACT: Daniel Jacobs
(202) 225-4016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives today passed a bill introduced by Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) to establish programs that prescribe overdose reversal drugs to patients who are at an elevated risk of opioid addiction and overdose.

The Co-Prescribing to Reduce Overdoses Act (H.R. 3680) encourages and trains health care providers to prescribe overdose reversal drugs, such as Naloxone, when they prescribe common opioids, like pain medication. These kinds of co-prescription programs are proven to slow the growth of overdose deaths. For example, the Veterans Health Administration distributes Naloxone to all veterans in treatment for a substance use disorder or to those who take high doses of opiates, and this method has successfully reduced opioid overdose deaths among veterans. The Co-Prescribing to Reduce Overdoses Act would enable more health care providers across the country to implement these kinds of effective co-prescription programs.

“No American family should have to suffer the grief of losing a loved one to opioid addiction or overdose,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “Our communities are in desperate need of resources to combat the epidemic of opioid abuse that’s sweeping across the nation. And today, Democrats and Republicans in Congress came together to tackle this national crisis by expanding access to a wide array of lifesaving treatment initiatives.”

The Sarbanes bill was part of a package of 12 bipartisan bills designed to combat the growing epidemic of opioid abuse across the nation. The bills address a wide spectrum of issues related to the opioid abuse crisis by expanding access to substance abuse treatment services, increasing access to overdose reversal medication, improving provider education and increasing public awareness of the problems of substance abuse. 

A full list of the bills can be found here.