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Senator’s Legislation to Protect and Treat Infants, Mothers & Strengthen Defense Against Synthetic Opioids, Illicit Fentanyl Adopted as Part of Senate HELP Committee Opioid Package

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is pleased to announce that three of his bills created to address the ongoing opioid crisis have passed a vote in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, as a part of S. 2680, the Opioid Crisis Response Act. Casey’s Supporting Infant Plans of Safe Care Implementation Act of 2018, Protecting Moms and Infants Act and his Restricting Entrance and Strengthening the Requirements on Import Controls for Trafficking (RESTRICT) Illicit Drugs Act all work to improve our nation’s ability to prevent and treat opioid use disorder across the country.

“I’m pleased to see these important measures be included in the Opioid Crisis Response Act, which received a favorable vote by my colleagues on the Senate HELP Committee,” said Senator Casey. “Whether working to prevent illicit fentanyl trafficking, helping opioid-dependent mothers and infants or assisting in the implementation of plans of safe care, these bills will do a great deal to strengthen our defenses as we continue to fight the opioid epidemic. I look forward to working in a bipartisan way with my colleagues throughout Congress to ensure that the Opioid Crisis Response Act is passed and signed into law.”

More on the Protecting Moms and Infants Act:

This legislation builds upon Casey’s and Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s 2015 bill, the Protecting Our Infants Act (POIA), which was the first federal law to address prenatal opioid exposure. The aim of the POIA was to develop a strategy to prevent prenatal exposure to opioids, treat infants born with opioid withdrawal and improve the states’ public health response to this growing problem. Specifically, it instructed the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to conduct a review of the agency’s activities related to prenatal opioid abuse and treating infants born dependent on opioids. After subsequent legislation challenging the agency to follow Congress’ timeline, a number recommendations were published in 2017. This new legislation requests the Secretary of HHS to provide Congress with a report on the implementation of the comprehensive strategies developed as required by POIA and also authorizes an increase in funding for a competitive federal grant that promotes access to residential treatment programs for pregnant and postpartum women.

More on the Supporting Plans of Safe Care Implementation Act:

This legislation builds upon Casey’s Infant Plan of Safe Care Improvement Act, which was enacted as a part of the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act. The Infant Plan of Safe Care Improvement Act strengthened the plan of safe care policy and increased states’ accountability and compliance, in order to save the lives of vulnerable infants whose mothers used opioids during pregnancy. Unfortunately, many states are still struggling to find the resources to serve all of the children impacted by the opioid epidemic. The Supporting Infant Plans of Safe Care Implementation Act would help States to implement the plan of safe care requirement by:

  • Providing $60 million in formula grants to States, territories and Indian tribes to improve their existing plans of safe care.
  • Promoting a multidisciplinary approach to supporting infants and their mothers affected by substance abuse.
  • Requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to provide in-depth assistance to States, territories, and Indian tribes and report to Congress annually on the recommendations or observations on the challenges, successes, and lessons from the grant program.

More On The RESTRICT Illicit Drugs Act:

Senator Casey was also an original cosponsor of the RESTRICT Illicit Drugs Act, with Senator Baldwin, Senator Cassidy and Senator Alexander; this bill was also included in S. 2680, the Opioid Crisis Response Act. In 2016, 63,632 Americans died from drug overdoses and according to the CDC, the increase in overdose deaths is driven largely by deaths from synthetic opioids and illicit fentanyl. China is the primary source of fentanyl in the U.S. with many of these illicit drugs coming through our International Mail Facilities (IMFs). While FDA has dedicated increased resources and staff to inspecting packages at IMFs, the scope of this crisis is so large that too many dangerous synthetic drugs are continuing to come across our borders. The RESTRICT Illicit Drugs Act modernizes FDA’s authority to help address importation of illegal drugs like opioids and other synthetic drugs by:

  • Strengthening coordination and efficiency between FDA and CBP by clarifying CBP’s role in managing the admission, refusal or destruction process of any counterfeit drug product or package containing a controlled substance.
  • Allowing FDA to debar, or stop, individuals or companies convicted of an FDA-related felony from continued shipments to prevent companies who have been caught shipping illegal substances from gaming the system and operating under a new name.
  • Enhancing FDA’s authority to refuse admission of illegal drugs from entities that have been de-barred, as a result of an FDA-related felony.