Bilirakis Seeks Data Needed from Federal Agencies to Ensure Patients Have Access to Prescription Medication
Washington, DC: The opioid epidemic has ravaged communities across the country. While policymakers at all levels, including Congressman Gus Bilirakis, have rightfully been working to address this crisis and save lives, we cannot ignore the fact that some patients have a legitimate need for pain medication. “ I hear this concern from constituents on a daily basis, especially among seniors, said Congressman Bilirakis. “It is not a new problem, but has seemed to intensify in recent years. In 2015, I first questioned then head of DEA’s Office of Diversion Control, Joe Rannazzisi about this issue. In 2016, I co-sponsored the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016, because of a provision in the bill which required all federal stakeholders to work together to prevent opioid abuse without jeopardizing patient access to their medications,” the Congressman added.
Section 3(a) of this law specifically requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to submit an interagency report to Congress containing this critical information within one year of enactment. However, Congress still has not received this report, though it is more than a year after it was required. “This issue is very important to me personally, and to my constituents. Public policy must ensure a delicate balance of putting necessary safeguards in place to prevent abuse while ensuring access to medication for those with legitimate pain. It also must respect the critical role of trained medical professionals, and not politicians, in developing appropriate treatment plans,” Bilirakis noted as he urged Secretary Azar to expedite the delivery of this information so Members of Congress can take appropriate next steps to address the problem in a responsible manner.