H. R. 4981
“Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Expansion and Modernization Act”
This bill was formerly H.R.2872, sponsored by Larry Bucshon [R-IN-8] and introduced 6/24/15 with cosponsors Steve Womack [R-AR-3], Steve Chabot [R-OH-1], Steve Stivers [R=OH-15], Daniel Webster [R-FL-10], and Ann Kuster [D-NH-2].
H.R. 4981, sponsored by Larry Bucshon [R-IN-8], was introduced 4/18/16 with cosponsors Paul Tonko [D-NY-20] and Todd Tokita [R-IN-4]. It was referred to the Energy and Commerce and Judiciary Committees. It passed the House on 5/12/16.
Purpose: To amend the Controlled Substances Act to improve access to opioid use disorder treatment.
Finding: that opioid use disorder has become a public health epidemic.
Treatment with medications like Suboxone is limited according to the restrictions in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This bill makes several changes to the CSA with respect to opioid drugs for treatment of opioid addiction. It is designed to increase the numbers of patients that can be treated with opioid antagonist drugs such as Suboxone.
First, it increases the practitioners that can provide such patient care to also include nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Second, it increases the numbers of patients that can be treated from 100 to 250 over a 3 year period, and allows the secretary to even change that number, or exclude patients from the count that receive the drugs directly by the practitioner in the office setting. This could increase the numbers of patients receiving Suboxone astronomically.
It also allows for the “revocation or suspension of registration in case of substantial noncompliance”. But it doesn’t state which registration. My guess is that the DEA will use this to revoke or suspend a doctor’s DEA certificate, not just this special registration for opioid antagonists. It also allows the Secretary to determine the criteria for the revocation/suspension which means they can do whatever they want.
In the report to Congress 2 years later, the Secretary is supposed to include an assessment of compliance and the measures taken by the Secretary to ensure such compliance. So you see, the point of the Bill is compliance with the Controlled Substances Act. That alone is giving the Justice Department license to charge doctors with criminal conduct if these provisions are not met. It also gives the DEA and DHHS complete access to doctor’s offices and records to snoop and look for other things they could charge the doctor with.
The main problem with this bill is that Suboxone is abusable. I know this from my 26 months in prison. Suboxone is the #1 abused drug in some prisons. According to those using and selling the drug, it gives a high 4x that of OxyContin. And here legislators, ignorant of the abuse of this medication, are opening the door for more people to get it and sell it. When I was practicing, Suboxone was the most frequent drug that showed up on drug screens when it shouldn’t. At the time I thought people were using it to simply hold themselves over until they could get their real medication. I didn’t know at the time about the abuse potential.
So if this Bill becomes law, we will be looking at more addicts instead of less, more Suboxone on the street, and more death because people don’t understand how Suboxone works. If a person on opiates takes it, it will throw them into immediate withdrawal which could be life-threatening.
Write to your Senators and tell them to vote No to the Senate equivalent of this Bill. Stop it from becoming law. Pass the word to your friends through FB, twitter and email. For bills that have not been voted on yet, you can show your position by going to the website https://www.countable.us/ or using the app https://appsto.re/us/_bYr1.i. Basically, if it is a bill about opioids, vote NO! There is really no redeeming value to any of these bills as far as using opioids responsibly goes. The legislature is working off an agenda of “Blame the pill” when it isn’t the pill’s fault. More posts about specific bills will be forthcoming. But you can do your own search using the website link https://www.congress.gov/search?q=%7B%22congress%22%3A%22114%22%2C%22source%22%3A%22legislation%22%2C%22search%22%3A%22H.R.4981%22%7D. This is a search of bills involving drugs.
Picture of Sublingual Suboxone by Jr de Barbosa – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33274370
Picture of Suboxone tablets by Supertheman – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10042687