CEPOP Weekly Opioid Policy Report

Wrapping Up 2021

This is the last Weekly Opioid Policy Report until January 10, 2022. On behalf of the CEPOP Steering Committee and operations team, best wishes to you for the holidays and Happy New Year. To review prior versions of the CEPOP Weekly Opioid Policy Report, please visit the Latest News section of the CEPOP website. Thank you!

Nominee for FDA Commissioner Pledges Actions to Address the Opioid Epidemic

On December 14th, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a confirmation hearing for President Joseph Biden’s nominee for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, Dr. Robert Califf. During the confirmation hearing, lawmakers expressed concerns about the opioid epidemic, the FDA’s approach to opioid approvals, including the recent approvals of high-dose opioids, and the agency’s lack of action on long-term opioid prescribing. In response to the lawmaker’s questions, Dr. Califf committed to expanding FDA’s provider education, evaluating opioid labeling processes, and reviewing opioid regulations, saying “I am committed to do a comprehensive review of the status of opioids early in my tenure.” While Senators Joe Manchin (WA), Richard Blumenthal (CT), and Bernie Sanders (VT) have noted their intention to oppose the nomination, citing concerns with Dr. Califf’s connection to the pharmaceutical industry, the majority of HELP Committee members expressed their support of the nomination.

Articles & Resources

Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Curb Fentanyl Trafficking

On December 16th, Senators Marco Rubio (FL) and Amy Klobuchar (MN) introduced the Domain Reform for Unlawful Drug Sellers (DRUGS) Act. The bill, which is based on a Food and Drug Administration and National Telecommunications and Information Administration pilot program, would suspend and lock websites that sell illicit fentanyl and counterfeit medications, and would also create an appeals mechanism for online pharmacies operating legally to continue to sell medications. In a press release, Senator Klobuchar said, “The opioid epidemic is hurting communities across our nation—none have been immune to its devastating effects. This bipartisan legislation will help eliminate unlawful digital pharmacies and other marketplaces illegally selling opioids or substandard drugs online, a major step as we work to address this public health emergency. Moving forward, I’ll keep pushing for policies to stop illegal sale of opioids and assist families impacted by this epidemic.”

Articles & Resources

What We Read Last Week

Several articles were published last week pertaining to the opioid epidemic, covering a variety of different components of the issue. Links to relevant articles are provided below.

This Week’s Calendar

In the week ahead, there are no relevant events or hearings noticed at this time. In the event that there are any changes to the schedule for this week, we will make additional information available.

All-Participants Meeting

The next All-Participants Meeting will be held Monday January 31, 2022 at 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM Eastern.