By Charlotte Spencer
There have been nearly 100 bills introduced so far this year that address the opioid epidemic. It seems everyone can agree this is an issue that needs to be addressed, but very few have managed to get any support at all behind their proposals. Only two bills with a direct focus on the epidemic have seen any kind of movement this year. And only one with a direct focus on the opioid epidemic has managed to become law.
As of late July 2021, a total of five bills that touch on the epidemic — even if only as a side note — have seen some movement past being introduced, although only two of those have managed to become law. As we mentioned earlier, for the most part these bills sit unmoving with no cosponsors, or only a handful of cosponsors.
It’s a miniscule amount of headway on an issue that so many agree needs to be addressed. At this point, it seems like introducing more bills would simply muddy the waters further. We have plenty of bills, but most of them aren’t making any progress. In this piece we give an overview of the bills that touch on the opioid epidemic, and those that have actually made progress so far this year.
This is one of only two bills introduced this year with a direct focus on the epidemic that have seen any movement. As of the writing of this article, it has passed the Senate and the House, but has not yet been signed into law. It amends the Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020 by mandating that the Secretary of Veterans Affairs designate times when individuals can dispose of controlled substances at Department facilities. It also allows for public information campaigns on this subject.
This is one of only two bills introduced this year that touch on the opioid epidemic at all that have actually managed to become law. It does not focus primarily on substance abuse, but does contain one section on funding for community-based substance abuse disorder services. This includes “distributing opioid overdose reversal medication to individuals at risk of overdose, connecting individuals at risk for, or with, a substance use disorder to overdose education, counseling, and health education, and encouraging such individuals to take steps to reduce the negative personal and public health impacts of substance use or misuse.”
This is the only bill introduced this year that just touches on the opioid epidemic and has managed to pass the Senate, besides the two that became law. It does not focus on the opioid crisis, but briefly touches on the issue of sanctioning China for a number of reasons, including “drug trafficking, including trafficking in fentanyl and other opioids.”
This is the only bill introduced this year that just touches on the opioid epidemic, and has managed to pass the House, aside from the other two that became law. It does not focus on the opioid epidemic, but touches briefly on controlled-substance testing in the Motor Vehicle Carrier Act.
This bill is the only bill so far this year that focuses directly on the opioid crisis that has managed to become law as of late July 2021. The original temporary order placing fentanyl related substances in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act was set to expire May 6. This bill became law May 4, thus extending this classification until October 22. Schedule I is the most serious classification of drugs in the Controlled Substances Act. This is still a temporary fix waiting on a more permanent update.
For a full list of pending legislation and to see updates on the progress of bills see https://www.congress.gov/. If you found this overview informational, you may also be interested in our recent article on a landmark case and settlement on this subject.
The information provided in this article should not be considered legal advice or a substitute for legal advice. Biometrica is not a law firm and cannot offer legal advice.