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FEDERAL | ASPS Offers Input on Opioid Use

Congress scheduled a number of hearings on opioid abuse in response to President Trump's determination last year that classified the epidemic as a "public health emergency." House Energy & Commerce Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) will conduct a hearing on April 25 in an attempt to bring opioid-related legislation to the House floor before the end of May. The Senate Finance Committee also convened a hearing on April 19 titled "Tackling Opioid and Substance Use Disorders in Medicare, Medicaid, and Human Services Programs." The House Ways & Means Committee underwent an exploratory investigation in which it requested information from the physician community on opportunities to curb the prescribing and abuse of these drugs. ASPS, through the Alliance of Specialty Medicine, provided feedback to Congress on overprescribing, data tracking, communication, education, and treatment options.

An estimated forty-six Americans die every day due to prescription opioid overdose, and the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths has increased more than six times since 2002. In addition to these tragic figures, the nation has also experienced an increase in opioid-related pediatric exposures and poisonings, with a distressing rise in neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) caused by fetal exposure to opioids during pregnancy.

Misuse by older adults has also become an increasing concern. The rate of opioid-related hospital admissions has increased significantly over the last two decades across all age cohorts. Due to higher rates of substance use disorders in the current "baby boomer" cohort, illicit and non-medical drug use among older adults is expected to increase in the future.

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