Press Release

Senators Gillibrand And Gardner Announce Bipartisan Legislation To Combat Opioid Crisis By Limiting Prescriptions To Seven Days

Mar 15, 2019

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) today announced bipartisan legislation to combat the opioid crisis. The John S. McCain Opioid Addiction and Prevention Act would limit the supply of initial opioid prescriptions for acute pain to seven days. This bill is named after late-Senator John McCain, who was the Republican lead of this legislation last Congress.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are nearly two million Americans misusing prescription opioids, and each day, 41 people die from an overdose related to these prescription painkillers. The CDC also found that in 2017, 68 percent of drug overdose deaths involved an opioid. This bill would create a seven-day prescription limit for opioids so that no more than a seven-day supply may be prescribed to a patient at one time for acute pain, such as a wisdom tooth removal or a broken bone. This would help restrict the excess supply of opioids and help minimize the risk of abuse.

“Too many families throughout New York and our country have suffered from the devastating consequences of the opioid epidemic. No community has been left untouched, and we need to be proactive when it comes to ending this crisis,” said Senator Gillibrand. “One of the root causes of opioid abuse is the over-prescription of these powerful and addictive drugs. I’m proud to join with Senator Gardner to introduce bipartisan legislation that limits the over-prescription of opioids. This would help our communities combat opioid addiction, and I urge my colleagues in Congress to pass this bill.”

“As I’ve met with Coloradans impacted by the opioid epidemic, the recurring story is clear. Oftentimes, the first over prescription spurs the devastating path of addiction,” said Senator Gardner. “Over prescriptions for pain management have allowed the opioid crisis to hit every corner of our communities, and this common sense legislation establishes the appropriate protections to help prevent addiction in the first place.” 

“The seven-day limit for initial acute-pain opioid prescriptions is consistent with pharmacists’ recommendations from the front-lines of care, their collaboration with law enforcement, and the needs of chronic pain sufferers. Six-in-10 Americans support this measure, with only two-in-10 indicating opposition, according to a January 2019 Morning Consult poll commissioned by NACDS. This bill will help prevent addiction and help prevent unused medications from falling into the wrong hands. Our support reflects pharmacies’ longstanding commitment to serve as part of the solution,” said NACDS (National Association of Chain Drug Stores) President & CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, CAE.

The John S. McCain Opioid Addiction and Prevention Act would help reduce the amount of excess opioids by requiring medical professionals, as a part of their Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) registration, to certify that they will not prescribe an opioid as an initial treatment for acute pain in an amount that exceeds a seven-day supply. Medical professionals would also have to certify that they would not provide a refill. Under current federal law, a medical professional must register with the DEA in order to be allowed to prescribe a controlled substance in the United States. This registration must be renewed every three years.

This seven-day prescription limit would not apply to the treatment of chronic pain; pain being treated as part of cancer care, hospice care, or other end-of-life care; or pain treated as part of palliative care. This federal legislation is modeled after laws in several states. Currently, fifteen states, including New York, limit initial opioid prescriptions for acute pain.