March 17, 2016

Senate HELP Committee Approves Kaine & Capito Bill To Help Prevent Opioid Overdoses

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee passed a bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to help address the prescription opioid and heroin abuse epidemic in America. The Co-prescribing Saves Lives Act would encourage physicians to co-prescribe the life-saving drug naloxone alongside opioid prescriptions and make naloxone more widely available in federal health settings. The bill can now head to the Senate floor for a vote.

“I’m very pleased that Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray have helped take this commonsense and practical bill one step closer to final Senate passage,” Kaine said. “Senator Capito and I have seen first-hand in Virginia and West Virginia how significant of a challenge the opioid abuse epidemic is for communities. Our hope is that this bill can move swiftly to the floor as part of comprehensive mental health and substance abuse legislation for full Senate consideration soon so we can help save lives.”

“We must act swiftly in order to save lives and stem the growing drug epidemic in America. The Co-prescribing Saves Lives Act is an important step toward preventing overdose deaths, and I am pleased this important legislation will advance to the Senate floor for a vote. I will continue working with Senator Kaine and my colleagues in the Senate to fight the devastating drug crisis,” said Senator Capito.

The Co-prescribing Saves Lives Act, as amended, would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Secretary of Defense, and Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish physician co-prescribing best practices for federal health settings, including VA hospitals, DOD hospitals, Indian health service facilities and Federally-Qualified Health Centers.

Nationwide, heroin and opioids account for approximately 25,000 American deaths per year. Naloxone reversed more than 26,000 overdose cases between 1996 and 2014.