New Opioid Abuse Bill Passed by Senate

In response to the continued pressure on communities and first responders caused by the increased use of opioids in general and heroin in particular, the Senate has passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). Focusing on prevention and treatment, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., stated from the Senate floor that the act "will help tackle this crisis by expanding education and prevention initiatives, improving treatment programs and bolstering law enforcement efforts" and that “this authorization bill, in conjunction with the $400 million appropriated for opioid-specific programs just a few months ago, can make important strides in combating the growing addiction and overdose problem we’ve seen in all 50 states”.

Of particular importance in the act is the expansion of availability of naxalone, used for treatment of heroin and other opioid overdoses by first responders. Additionally, provisions within the act would provide incentives to states to ensure wider availability by providing some liability protections to those who are involved in distribution.

In conjunction and as extension to the passed CARA Act, and to encourage treatment of addicts, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., is promoting the TREAT Act, which would make buprenorphine more widely available as a treatment option. Along with methadone, buprenorphine is seen as an effective treatment option, but has frequently been unavailable in many of the rural areas hit by the increased use of heroin.