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House Committee Examines Higgins’ TREAT Act and Other Legislation Aimed at Addressing the Opioid Epidemic

Oct 8, 2015
Press Release
TREAT Act Supports Medication Assisted Treatment, Expands Authorized Prescribers

A Health Subcommittee of the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce examined a number of bipartisan bills aimed at addressing the nation’s drug addiction epidemic, including the TREAT Act introduced by Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26).  

Higgins also spoke about the issue on the House Floor:

(To access video click above or go to: https://youtu.be/RITZ8SxzZpo)

Higgins’ bill (H.R. 2536) would lift the cap on physicians authorized to prescribe buprenorphine, medication proven to help individuals beat opioid addiction, and extend prescribing rights to physician assistants and nurse practitioners. 

Currently, there is an enormous disparity between those who can prescribe opioids, and those who can prescribe treatments for opioid addiction. Over 800,000 physicians can write controlled substance prescriptions, but only about 30,000 can prescribe the medication used to treat opioid addiction.  Prescribers of buprenorphine are limited to treating 30 patients in the first year, and up to 100 in year two and beyond.

During the Committee Hearing, U.S. Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Richard Frank’s testimony noted the department’s efforts to address the goals included in Higgins’ TREAT Act. 

Just recently the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced plans to revise rules related to the treatment of opioid addiction, including improving opioid prescribing practices, increasing access to naloxone (Narcan), and expanding the use of medication-assisted treatment (MAT). 

Drug Enforcement Administration Deputy Administrator Jack Riley’s testimony noted that over 4.3 million Americans reported using prescription pain relievers non-medically in 2014.  

Issues: