WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two U.S. Representatives, one from West Virginia and the other from Kentucky, recently introduced a bill to increase abuse-deterrent safeguards for prescription drugs.
The Stop Tampering of Prescription Pills (STOPP) Act, was introduced by Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) and Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), along with William Keating (D-Mass.), and would require opioid-based prescription drugs to include abuse-deterrent technologies that prevent substance abusers from crushing or dissolving prescription opioids so that they cannot be inhaled or injected to achieve an immediate high.
“Drug manufacturers have the means – and, certainly, the moral responsibility – to reduce the risk of abuse, whenever possible, for the prescription pain medications they are selling,” Rahall said. “We have a growing national epidemic on our hands and it is no longer sufficient to merely encourage drug manufacturers to do the right thing. Voluntary incentives are not enough.”
Some drug manufacturers, according to a release from Rahall’s office, now produce prescription opioids with tamper-resistant features that prevent such abuse, but the patents expire this year for brand name painkillers such as Oxycontin that include those safeguards. The STOPP Act would ensure similar generic medications include abuse-deterrent technologies.
“When Oxycontin was first approved by the FDA over a decade ago, it seemed at first glance that its extended-release technology was a godsend for patients suffering from chronic pain,” Rogers said. “What no one could foresee was that when you crush these pills, they actually create pain in the form of addiction, abuse and senseless, tragic overdose deaths.”
Executive Director of Center for Lawful Access and Abuse Deterrence, Michael Barnes, said that pharmaceuitical companies “must take responsibility for the safety of their products.”
“That’s what the STOPP Act is about. It really is that simple,” Barnes said.
“In the end, this will save lives, save medical resources, hospital beds, prison cells, broken homes, and orphaned little ones,” Rahall said. “It will save commerce and all levels of government scarce resources. Yes, that means savings to the consumer and taxpayer alike… Making these pills harder to abuse is a needed step in curbing the abuse and overdose levels we see in West Virginia, and all across our great nation.”