Dingell, Upton introduce bipartisan bill to address opioid epidemic

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell

Legislation aims at spurring development of non-addictive pain medication

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) and Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) today introduced legislation to address the opioid epidemic by spurring research on new non-addictive pain medications.

Twenty-five million Americans suffer from pain every day, and it is essential that non-addictive medications are available to them, Dingell said.

H.R. 5002, the Advancing Cutting-Edge Research Act provides the National Institutes of Health with new, flexible authorities to conduct innovative research on ways to prevent, treat and cure diseases, including research to respond to public health threats like the opioid epidemic.

Developing new non-addictive pain medications is essential to combating the opioid epidemic, Dingell said. During congressional hearings, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins requested the agency be given more flexibility, known as other transaction authority, so the agency could better partner with innovative companies doing research to address the opioid epidemic and other public health threats.

Under the ACE Research Act, the NIH director will be able to more quickly support research on new, non-addictive pain killers and other emerging technologies that can offer hope to those suffering from an opioid addiction.

Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, have introduced companion legislation in the Senate (S. 2406).

“The opioid epidemic is ravaging families in Michigan and across this country,” Dingell said. “It is critical that we come together – Democrats and Republicans – to stem this public health crisis while ensuring that those with very real medical needs continue to have access to necessary medication.

“This legislation does exactly that by expanding NIH authority to innovate and partner with new entities conducting cutting-edge medical research. By developing new non-addictive painkillers and pursuing other scientific advances, we can help prevent addiction from taking hold of families in the first place, combat this epidemic and save lives.”

“Opioid abuse and addiction is tearing through families and communities here in Michigan and across the entire country,” Upton said. “We’ve taken concrete steps to address this heartbreaking epidemic with solutions such as the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and the 21st Century Cures Act but clearly more work remains.

“This bipartisan bill will help those in need by giving the National Institutes of Health more tools and flexibility to support research on new, non-addictive painkiller alternatives and other scientific advances that will help respond to the crisis. Opioid abuse and addiction doesn’t cherry-pick Republicans or Democrats. It touches us all. It’s going to take a full-team effort, and working across party lines, to finally solve this.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overdose deaths involving prescription opioids were five times higher in 2016 than 1999. From 1999 to 2016, more than 200,000 people have died in the United States from overdoses related to prescription opioids.