WASHINGTON — Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., cosponsored bipartisan legislation introduced into the Senate Tuesday designed to allow the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to more effectively combat “pill mills” — operations moving high volumes of prescription drugs into relatively small communities.
The Preventing Pill Mills Through Data Sharing Act would give the agency additional tools to hold drug distributors, manufacturers and pharmacies accountable for identifying, reporting and stopping suspicious orders of controlled substances, according to a release from Capito’s office.
“Our recent history in West Virginia, where millions of prescription opioids flowed freely into small communities throughout the state, demonstrates all too clearly why continued action is needed to ensure suspicious orders of controlled substances are detected, stopped and those responsible held accountable,” Capito said.
The bill was introduced Tuesday by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and was also cosponsored by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
“Thousands of opioids, often bought from pharmacies, are flooding our communities and leading to devastatingly high levels of addiction and prescription drug-related overdose deaths,” Feinstein said. “One West Virginia town of 392 people received nearly 9 million pills in a single year. We cannot allow pharmacies to order far more drugs than they can responsibly distribute, and drug manufacturers and distributors to supply them.
The bill would require drug manufacturers and distributors to report the sale, delivery or other disposal of all controlled substances on a monthly basis. Current law requires quarterly reporting.
It would additionally extend current penalties and reporting requirements, as well as require the DEA to present quarterly reports to manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies.
And the agency would be required to provide Congress with reports it currently gives to states every six months. Requirements for those reports also would be expanded to include unusual volumes of controlled substances that are disposed of rather than sold and unusual numbers of deleted transactions of high volumes of controlled substances.
“The data needed to stop pharmacies from becoming pill mills already exists. We just have to make it accessible so suspicious orders can be spotted and reported to the authorities. That’s exactly what this bill does, and I’m proud to introduce it with my colleagues,” Feinstein said.
“I’m glad to join Sen. Feinstein in introducing this legislation that builds on our past bipartisan work and provides much-needed next steps to guarantee the mistakes of the past are not repeated,” Capito said.