Washington D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Congressman Evan Jenkins (R–WV) introduced the Prescriber Support Act of 2016, legislation to combat the opioid epidemic by ensuring care providers have sufficient resources, information and support when prescribing opioids for pain. In a 2014 study in the Journal of Opioid Management, less than half of surveyed care providers felt sufficiently trained in prescribing opioids. Additionally, care providers report a lack of support and resources to consult when a pain patient is struggling with substance use disorders. The Prescriber Support Act addresses these disparities by establishing comprehensive state-based resources for prescribers to consult when helping patients manage pain and identifying signs of substance use disorders.
“Too many have experienced the unthinkable heartbreak of losing a child or a loved one to the opioid crisis,” said Clark. “This epidemic is an urgent calling for Congress to put all differences aside, learn from the stories of these families, and do everything we can to prevent another death. The Prescriber Support Act that I introduced with Congressman Jenkins ensures that we are providing doctors and patients the support they need to combat this public health crisis.”
“Solving the nation’s drug epidemic will take a multifaceted approach, and the prescribing of pain medicine is one area where innovative solutions are particularly needed," said Jenkins. "Doctors and nurses should be given the resources needed to provide the best treatments for their patients, and this legislation will provide another tool to help their patients manage their pain. Responsible pain management is another piece to solving the drug crisis, and I am proud to join with Rep. Clark to find solutions to address this national crisis.”
The Prescriber Support Act establishes grants to create programs that provide real-time expert consultation for treating patients and continuously updated resources to connect doctors and patients with appropriate services. Many states have adopted this model to provide resources for doctors and nurses to address childhood behavioral health issues and postpartum depression in their practices. The Prescriber Support Act will help states build similarly critical programs to address pain management and substance use.
Clark has made addressing the opioid epidemic a high priority. In Massachusetts, over one thousand opioid-related fatalities were reported in 2014. In November, Clark’s proposal to coordinate aid for newborns suffering from opioid exposure was signed into law by President Obama. In addition to the Prescriber Support Act, Clark is pushing several of her measures through the U.S. House, including the Reducing Unused Medications Act, Lali’s Law, and efforts to ensure infants exposed to opioids get the care they need.