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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) released the following statement about his support for a bill to continue funding the Food and Drug Administration’s prescription drug and device approval process in a Senate vote tonight.  

“While this bill isn’t perfect, I supported the FDA bill tonight because it contains so many important provisions that will ensure that people get the medicine they need,” Senator Manchin said. “However, I am extremely disappointed that the bill didn’t include my measure to make it harder to get the addictive prescription drug hydrocodone, especially since every law enforcement group fighting the war on drugs says that it would give them a powerful tool in this fight. 

“While high-powered and well-funded lobbyists may have gotten a victory in this round, I can assure you that I will not give up on this provision. I hear on a daily basis from my constituents in West Virginia who are counting on us to do something about the prescription drug epidemic ravaging their communities. My amendment may not have gone into this bill today, but it’s not going away any time soon. I am determined to see this thing through.”

Background: 

  • Hydrocodone, a highly addictive prescription painkiller, is currently a Schedule III substance. Senator Manchin’s amendment would have reclassified hydrocodone as a Schedule II substance, which means it would be much more difficult to get for illegitimate reasons. The Senate unanimously passed Senator Manchin’s measure on May 23, but the House of Representatives did not. During negotiations to reconcile the two FDA bills, the Senator’s hydrocodone amendment was stripped from the bill. 

  • In 2010, the most recent year for which data is available, a study showed that there were 28,310 recorded instances of toxic exposures from hydrocodone. The same study showed that 24 million individuals have admitted to abusing hydrocodone drugs for non-medical purposes. 

  • A different study, put out by the Centers for Disease Control in November, showed that more than 40 people die every day from overdoses involving narcotic pain relievers like hydrocodone. 

  • The FDA bill did contain a provision that would make the sale and distribution of synthetic marijuana and other synthetic substances like “bath salts” illegal by permanently placing them on the list of Schedule I controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act. West Virginia has already made it illegal for any person to sell, buy or possess many synthetic substances such as bath salts. 

  • The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for reviewing prescription drugs and medical devices before they are allowed to be sold in this country. To help pay for the review process, the FDA collects a fee from drug makers and the manufacturers of medical devices. The FDA bill passed tonight allows the FDA to continue to collect the fee. 

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