Politics & Government

Buchanan’s bill addresses pain management without opioid addiction. He calls it long overdue

Program to stem the tide of opioid addiction underway at Manatee Memorial

A new program called Alto is designed to prevent new addictions by treating pain with alternates to addictive drugs
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A new program called Alto is designed to prevent new addictions by treating pain with alternates to addictive drugs

As the opioid epidemic ravages the nation, doctors and patients alike have become afraid of the risk of addiction that comes with drugs meant to manage pain.

The U.S. House passed Congressman Vern Buchanan’s bipartisan legislation that aims to rectify that issue. The bill, which found support from Democrats and medical professionals, makes it easier to find information about how patients can safely use opioids to treat different types of pain without becoming addicted.

“This is a long-overdue bill that creates a centralized source of information for patients and family members on the best practices to avoid opioid addiction,” said Buchanan, R-Longboat Key. “It provides the information people need to manage their pain without risking addiction.”

The Centralized Opioid Guidance Act requires the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to craft an “accessible resource guide” that will be available on the agency’s website for anyone to access.

According to a news release, the federal government already provided reports, studies and guidelines, but they are scattered across the internet throughout at least nine agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services. Buchanan’s bill makes that information easier to find and isn’t expected to produce any cost.

In a May 14 meeting with local medical officials, Rep. Vern Buchanan (right), R-Longboat Key, discussed Manatee’s progress in dealing with the opioid crisis. On Friday, the U.S. House passed legislation that provides medical professionals and the public with clear opioid prescription guidelines. Tiffany Tompkins ttompkins@bradenton.com

Buchanan’s bill was co-sponsored by Pennsylvania Democrat Conor Lamb and endorsed by various local organizations, including Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells, Drug free Manatee, Manatee Memorial Hospital, the Manatee County Commission and Centerstone, a local addiction center.

“Currently, it is difficult and time-consuming to access trusted federal opioid prescribing guidelines,” Centerstone Florida CEO Melissa Larkin-Skinner said. “In requiring the CMS to post all relevant opioid prescribing guidelines in one online space, more patients and providers will be able to quickly seek out and reference the most up-to-date and trusted opioid prescribing guidelines.”

The bill also instructs the HHS to work on a coordinated curriculum for opioid prescribers. It passed the House on Friday and will be voted on by the Senate soon. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.

Buchanan has been a key figure in the nation’s fight against the opioid crisis, proposing numerous laws that crack down on illegal drugs entering the county and secure funds to fight the epidemic.

Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Vern Buchanan met with Manatee County leaders about the heroin epidemic and what can be done in Washington.