CHARLESTON — A bill was introduced Wednesday which would allow prescriptions for opioid medications to be only partially filled by pharmacists at the request of patients or doctors.
The bill, Reducing Unused Medications Act, was introduced by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; Sen. Elizabeth Warren D-Mass., and Representatives Katherine Clark, D-Mass., and Steve Stivers, R-Ohio.
Capito said in a release that the bill would help reduce the number of unused pain killers. More than 70 percent of adults who misuse prescription opioids get them from friends or relatives, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
“In order to fight the drug epidemic and save lives, we must pursue solutions on all fronts,” Capito said. “Allowing the partial filling of opioid prescriptions is one way we can reduce the drug supply and prevent unused prescriptions from ending up in the wrong hands.”
She said the bipartisan legislation will clarify federal policy, enable states to move forward with partial fill policies and play a significant role in a broader effort to combat the drug crisis.
Co-sponsor Elizabeth Warren said tackling the opioid abuse epidemic will take a lot of hard work, but prevention starts in doctor’s offices and at home.
“This bipartisan bill is an important step that will empower patients to work with their doctors and pharmacists to get appropriate pain treatment, while limiting the number of unused pills in family medicine cabinets,” Warren said. “It also empowers states like Massachusetts to explore additional prescribing policies that are right for their citizens.”
Reducing the amount of unused prescription painkillers is a critical part of addressing the ongoing opioid abuse epidemic, the release said.
Current Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulations permit certain drugs to be partially filled, but the regulations are narrower and less clear for other drugs, including prescription opioids. The Reducing Unused Medications Act will resolve any ambiguity and clear the way for states considering partial fill policies to act.