THE OPIOID CRISIS RESPONSE ACT: Know the Basics

Jun 25 2019

THE OPIOID CRISIS RESPONSE ACT: Know the Basics

The law, for better or worse, defines the limits of many things. If the opioid problems in the United States are to improve, it will be as a result of FDA and other governmental laws. Knowing the plans of the FDA and the government will go a long way toward understanding how we may positively impact the opioid epidemic in our neighborhoods. Laws can be hard to read and even more difficult to comprehend. Read below for a brief summary of THE OPIOID CRISIS RESPONSE ACT, including how to make sure your voice is heard.

THE OPIOID CRISIS RESPONSE ACT (OCRA) focuses on a handful of central ideas: reduction of opioid supplies, enhanced access to treatment and recovery services, protection of youth and their families, and development of opioid alternatives. OCRA is designed to introduce and supply a range of opioid prevention and support efforts using federal agencies in alliance with state and local governments. Read below for a brief summary of OCRA and how its key tenants impact us.

Regulation of Opioid Supplies

Among several provisions designed to limit supplies, OCRA promises more funds for law enforcement task forces working in prominent drug trafficking areas. OCRA incorporates provisions of the previously proposed Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act directing the U.S. Postal Service to inspect foreign packages to help detect opioid importation. Detecting and seizing opioids may be furthered through greater collaboration between Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA may also require opioid manufacturers to (a) package opioids in small-dose blister packs (to encourage truncated opioid use) and (b) develop patient disposal methods to prevent diversion of unused product. Federal support of state-based Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) are intended to buttress efforts to better assess and combat opioid misuse.

Treatment and Recovery

OCRA includes limited proposals on treatment and recovery efforts:

  • Health & Human Services (HHS) is directed to develop guidelines for emergency treatment of patients with opioid-related overdoses;
  • Access to substance use disorder (SUD) treatment is expanded through approaches like medication-assisted treatment and telemedicine;
  • Development of opioid recovery centers are funded through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
  • Reauthorization of the Building Communities of Recovery Program for peer support groups entailed in recovery services.

Infant, Youth, and Family Services

Congress has expressed strong interests in protecting infants, youth, and their families from the effects of opioid use. OCRA supports state-based efforts to improve care of substance-exposed infants. HHS is mandated to issue strategies for preventing prenatal substance use as well as guidance for how states can help keep families together during treatment. Preventing opioid use among youth is advanced through various avenues including a proposed Drug-Free Communities Program.

Long-Term Opioid Alternatives

Among other provisions, OCRA allows the National Institutes of Health to fund the development of new, non-addictive painkillers. Meanwhile, HHS is instructed to assist hospitals and other acute care settings treat millions of Americans needing pain management services.

Keep Up with OCRA Developments

Public Hearing to Discuss Standards for Future Opioid Analgesic Approvals