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GOP Senator: 'Push Drug Companies' to Come Up with 'Alternatives' to Addictive Pain Meds

fentanyl heroin and other drug bust seizures

WASHINGTON – Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said the U.S. government needs to “push the drug companies to come up with non-addictive alternatives” to pain medications.

“It’s crazy that we’re using opioids for things like extracting a wisdom tooth. It just doesn’t make any sense. And then the distribution network, which is the focus of that story, is obviously a huge part of it. The Prescription Drug Monitoring Act – that, again, I encourage members to co-sponsor and let’s get the darn thing passed – requires states to have a prescription drug monitoring program that holds the pharmacies and the doctors responsible on the prescription side to stop the overprescribing,” Portman said during a Washington Post Live discussion on “Addiction in America: A Nation Responds.”

“It also requires states to get involved with the interstate compact so that you have interoperability. In Ohio, people will get the prescription in Ohio. Then they go to West Virginia or Kentucky or Michigan or Indiana or Kentucky, somewhere else, to get another prescription filled. We’ve got to stop that and then, obviously, on the treatment and recovery side, Narcan and the enforcement side,” he added.

Portman and Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) touted the benefits of the Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention (STOP) Act of 2017, which aims to prevent illegal drugs from being shipped into the country. If passed and signed into law, the STOP Act would “amend the Tariff Act of 1930 to make the Postmaster General the importer of record for non-letter class mail and to require the provision of advance electronic information about shipments of non-letter class mail to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.”

Hassan said the STOP Act would help U.S. law enforcement officials “go after” fentanyl producers and dealers.

“In New Hampshire, 70 percent or so of our overdose deaths are a result of fentanyl overdoses, and so it is 50 times more powerful than heroin. We’ve also had 10 deaths from carfentanil, which is 100 times more powerful than fentanyl and was really intended only to tranquilize large elephants. So, these drugs are synthetic. The profit margins, because they’re easy to make, you don’t have to grow a plant as a precursor here, are huge, and they are flooding particularly rural areas of our country,” the senator said.

“The last thing we should be doing is destabilizing and repealing our healthcare in this country, in terms of making sure that there is treatment accessible to people who need it,” she added. “So, in this mix, while we talk about the STOP Act, which is critically important to getting data, so that we can go after these fentanyl producers and dealers, we can’t ignore the fact that an integrated healthcare system that treats behavioral health and substance use disorder is an absolutely essential piece of this.”