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Capitol Health Call
June 11, 2014

Senate Starts Group to Take on Prescription Drug Abuse

JAMA. 2014;311(22):2264. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.6829

To address the increasing problem of prescription opioid abuse and deaths from prescription drug overdose, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee established the bipartisan Prescription Drug Abuse Working Group in April. The working group intends to examine the challenges of prescription drug abuse and determine what the federal government, state governments, public health groups, clinicians, law enforcement, and others are doing to address it.

HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D, Iowa) and ranking member Lamar Alexander (R, Tennessee), along with other lawmakers, have taken the US Food and Drug Administration to task for its approval last October of hydrocodone bitartrate extended-release capsules, a pure hydrocodone painkiller, reported The Hill (http://bit.ly/1k0YUOZ). The drug has the potential to be highly addictive and widely abused, they said.