May 21, 2021

Manchin Reintroduces Nine Bills To Address Growing Drug Epidemic

Charleston, WV – In recent weeks, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) has reintroduced nine bills to address the growing drug epidemic facing West Virginia and the United States. In 2020, over 90,000 Americans died from drug related overdoses, which is the highest year of overdose deaths ever recorded, with over half of those likely involving an opioid or synthetic opioid.
“The last year was the deadliest year on record for overdose related deaths. It is blatantly clear that we must do more to address the drug epidemic that is impacting every West Virginian and American,” said Senator Manchin. “My legislation seeks to address every part of this crisis, from funding and expanding substance use treatment access, to sealing records of non-violent criminal records related to substance use disorder to help West Virginians get back into the workforce. Congress must take action to combat this epidemic, and I urge my bipartisan colleagues to support my commonsense bills that will help save West Virginian and American lives.”
Each piece of legislation aims at addressing different aspects of the drug epidemic, including expanding and supporting substance use treatment access through different funding streams, sealing records of non-violent substance use related crimes and ensuring the FDA listens to experts on approving new opioid medications and works to keep the market from being flooded with dangerous opioids.

Senator Manchin’s Recently Introduced Legislation:
  • Life Budgeting for Opioid Addiction Treatment (LifeBOAT) Act: This bipartisan bill would establish a stewardship fee to provide and expand access to substance use treatment through the existing Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant. To pay for this treatment, this bill would establish a 1 cent stewardship fee on each milligram of active opioid ingredient in a prescription pain pill. The bill includes a rebate for cancer related pain and hospice patients and an exemption for opioids used as part of medically assisted treatment.
  • Clean Start Act: This bill would allow persons with a felony or misdemeanor conviction for a past non-violent crime committed as a result of substance use disorder to have their records sealed after undergoing comprehensive treatment and demonstrating a commitment to their recovery.
  • FDA Review of Efficacy of EERW Double-Blinds (FREED) of Opioids Act: This bipartisan bill would ensure that scientific experts review the controversial EERW methodology used to approve new opioids and will ensure that opioids are only marketed for uses where they are both safe and effective.
  • Improving Medicaid Programs’ Response to Overdose Victims and Enhancing (IMPROVE) Addiction Care Act: This bipartisan bill would provide greater assistance to individuals who have struggled with substance use disorder by requiring state Medicaid programs to use jointly-funded Drug Utilization Review programs to help connect patients to treatment and boost safeguards for those on Medicaid who have experienced a non-fatal, opioid-related overdose.
  • DEA Enforcement and Authority Act: This bill would restore the DEA ability to effectively enforce our nation’s drug laws by making the critical changes requested by the Department of Justice to the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act, which passed in 2016, that would help the DEA crack down on suspicious opioid orders.
  • FDA Accountability for Public Safety Act: This bipartisan bill would ensure experts are heard when the FDA considers new, dangerous opioid medications by requiring the FDA to seek the advice of an advisory committee before approving new opioids and requires the agency to provide a report to Congress if it approves an opioid against the advice of that committee.
  • Protecting Americans from Dangerous Opioids Act: This bill would require the FDA to remove one opioid medication currently on the market for every new opioid medication that they approve.
  • Changing the Culture of the FDA Act: This bill would amend the FDA mission statement to include the agency’s responsibility for addressing the ongoing drug epidemic.
  • Non-Opioid Directive (NOD) Act: This bipartisan bill would establish a non-opioid directive form that allows patients to notify health professionals that they do not wish to be treated with opioids.

A timeline of Senator Manchin’s efforts to address the drug epidemic can be found here