Markey Joins Senators to Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Reauthorize Program to Curb Prescription Drug Addiction
Reauthorization of National All-Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting (NASPER) program will support state efforts to monitor prescription drugs
Washington (February 12, 2015)– Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today joined Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Pat Toomey (R-Penn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) to reintroduce bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the National All-Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting (NASPER) program, which provides grants to states to maintain, improve, and expand their prescription drug monitoring programs. Prescription narcotic drugs are the number one cause of overdoses in the United States with more than 22,700 reported deaths due to prescription drug related overdoses in 2013. Monitoring programs like NASPER help law enforcement better monitor drug dispensing practices, ultimately helping crack down on potential abuse. The program was originally signed into law in 2005 and the reauthorization legislation is cosponsored by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).
“Prescription drug addiction is one of the greatest hurdles for both young and old attempting to achieve their American Dream,” said Senator Markey. “It robs them of their relationships with friends and family. It robs them of their jobs and income. It often robs them of their freedom, as they look out from behind prison bars. Tragically, much too often, it robs them of their lives. Reauthorizing the NASPER program is critical for supporting law enforcement and local officials who are working to end this epidemic of opiate addiction devastating Massachusetts and communities across the country.”
“In New Hampshire we’ve seen prescription drug addiction reach epidemic proportions, hurting families and communities in our state,” said Senator Shaheen. “Prescription drug monitoring is an important tool for officials to have at their disposal to curb prescription drug abuse and addiction. Reauthorizing this critical program will help local officials strengthen and expand their drug monitoring programs, ultimately helping them identify and crack down on drug abuse.”
“I’ve heard from families, law enforcement officials, and medical professionals across Pennsylvania about the causes of our state’s prescription drug and heroin problem,” said Senator Toomey. “Prescription drug monitoring programs work to help stem the illegal diversion of abused prescription drugs and I’m hopeful that the bipartisan reauthorization of NASPER will enhance these efforts and provide critical funding to coordinate state programs while also improving access to data for health care providers.”
“In recent years, Illinois – like the rest of the country –has seen an increase in drug overdose deaths,” said Senator Durbin. “Reauthorizing the NASPER program is essential to state and local governments that are working to curb prescription drug abuse and combat this fast-growing epidemic.”
“As a former federal prosecutor, I know how devastating prescription drug abuse and addiction can be for individuals and communities,” said Senator Sessions. “I introduced the original NASPER legislation 10 years ago to help empower states to fight this societal ill. Since then, states across the country have made real progress in strengthening their prescription drug monitoring programs. This reauthorization will ensure that states and doctors continue to have the tools they need to identify problems with prescription drug abuse.”
NASPER would improve the ability of law enforcement, public health officials and state regulators to investigate prescribing and dispensing practices by helping states develop more robust prescription drug monitoring programs. NASPER can provide support to already existing state prescription drug monitoring programs and bolster their ability to operate both effectively and efficiently. Prescription drug monitoring programs provide information that is critical to health care providers and for guiding educational outreach.
Last fall, Senator Markey released a plan to address the prescription drug and heroin epidemic, outlining a series of policy recommendations for federal agencies, Congress and the Obama administration to act upon to address the current crisis. In 2014, Senator Markey convened roundtables in Boston, Taunton and Holyoke, Massachusetts to develop this comprehensive strategy to address the opiate addiction and overdose epidemic. In the last Congress, he also introduced the Opioid Overdose Reduction Act, legislation that would protect individuals who administer lifesaving opioid overdose prevention drugs from legal liability.