Capito Introduces Legislation to Prevent Diversion of Opioids

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.)—along with Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)—today introduced the Using Data to Prevent Opioid Diversion Act, legislation that would provide drug manufacturers and distributors with data to identify pharmacies that are suspiciously ordering prescription opioids. The bill also grants law enforcement authority to hold drug manufacturers and distributors accountable if they fail to use this data to identify, report, and stop suspicious orders of prescription opioids.

“In West Virginia, we’ve seen so many instances where far too many prescription opioids are flowing into small communities. While there were red flags, having this additional data readily available will help ensure the warning signs never again go unnoticed,” Senator Capito said. “This legislation will make it easier to detect and stop suspicious orders of opioids and hold irresponsible manufacturers and distributors responsible.”

Between 2006 and 2016, nearly 21 million opioids were distributed to two pharmacies in Williamson, West Virginia, which has a population of nearly 3,000. Between 2007 and 2008, nearly 9 million pills were distributed to a single pharmacy in Kermit, West Virginia, which has a population of only 392. Between 2007 and 2012, 780 million oxycodone and hydrocodone pills were distributed to pharmacies throughout West Virginia. During this same timeframe, these two drugs contributed to 1,700 drug overdose deaths in the state.

Despite the fact that opioid manufacturers and distributors are required to report the sale, delivery, or other disposal of narcotics to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) through the Automated Reports and Consolidated Ordering System (ARCOS), the DEA is not required to disclose to opioid manufacturers and distributors the total number of distributors serving a single pharmacy or practitioner, or the total quantity and type of opioids being distributed.

This means that the DEA knows how many total pills are being shipped to each pharmacy or practitioner, but manufacturers and distributors do not have access to the same information. This creates a barrier to identifying and stopping potentially suspicious orders if pharmacies are ordering from multiple manufacturers or distributors.

The Using Data to Prevent Opioid Diversion Act of 2018 removes this barrier by requiring DEA to provide drug manufacturers and distributors with full visibility into the number of manufacturers and distributors serving each pharmacy and practitioner, as well as the total quantity and type of opioids being delivered to each. It then empowers law enforcement to hold companies shipping opioids to pharmacies accountable if they don’t report and stop filling orders when suspicious ordering patterns are evident.

The full text of the legislation can be viewed here.

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