U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand partnered with the late U.S. Sen. John McCain on legislation to limit opioid treatment for acute pain. With a new Congress, Gillibrand has reintroduced the bill and named it in honor of her former colleague.
Gillibrand, D-N.Y., joined with U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican, to propose the John S. McCain Opioid Addiction and Prevention Act. The bill would require doctors and other medical professionals to limit opioid prescriptions for the initial treatment of acute pain to no more than a seven-day supply.
Under the bill, medical professionals would have to confirm they would not provide refills to those prescribed opioids for acute pain.
The limit imposed by the bill would not apply to chronic treatment, such as cancer, hospice or palliative care. Fifteen states, including New York, have limits on opioid prescriptions for acute pain.
In a statement, Gillibrand said the bill would help combat the opioid crisis. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 70,000 people died of a drug overdose in 2017.
"Too many families through New York and our country have suffered from the devastating consequences of the opioid epidemic," Gillibrand stated. "No community has been left untouched, and we need to be proactive when it comes to ending this crisis."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that roughly 2 million Americans misuse prescription opioids, and 41 people die every day from overdosing on the drugs.
In 2017, two-thirds of overdose deaths involved an opioid.
Gardner and Gillibrand believe their bill would help contain the supply of prescription opioids and minimize the risk of abuse.
Steven Anderson, president and CEO of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, said a poll commissioned by the group earlier this year found six out of every 10 Americans support limiting opioid prescriptions.
"This bill will help prevent addiction and help prevent unused medications from falling into the wrong hands," Anderson said.
The bill didn't advance in the last Congress when Gillibrand and McCain introduced it in the Senate. McCain died in August 2018, a year after he was diagnosed with brain cancer.
If Congress passes the bill, it would be the second named in honor of McCain. In 2018, the National Defense Authorization Act, an annual defense policy measure, was named in McCain's honor.