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Ernst, Grassley, Blumenthal Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Combat Prescription Drug Abuse

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), along with Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), introduced the Access to Increased Drug Disposal (AIDD) Act of 2018. The bipartisan AIDD Act is legislation designed to increase participation in the federal prescription drug take-back programs to help combat prescription drug abuse and the growing opioid epidemic. 

The Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, allowed the Drug Enforcement Agency to authorize retail pharmacies and other entities licensed to handle controlled substances to collect unused prescription drugs from the public and dispose of them. This arrangement is commonly referred to as a drug take-back program. However, following a study into drug take-back programs requested by Senators Ernst and Grassley, the U.S. Government Accountability Office found low voluntary participation among pharmacies due to high costs and confusion over compliance with federal regulations.

The AIDD Act would address the cost of participation by creating a demonstration program allowing five states to apply for grant funding from the Department of Justice. The selected states would then issue a report detailing how the grant funding was administered, which entities received funding, and how it impacted participation rates – providing additional insight into how best to improve the program and increase participation nationwide.

“Last year, over 200 opioid-related deaths were reported in Iowa alone, a tragic 12 percent increase from 2016,” said Senator Ernst. “As communities across Iowa and the nation are struggling to combat the ever-worsening opioid epidemic, we cannot let burdensome costs discourage voluntary participation in a program of such critical and timely importance. The bipartisan AIDD Act is a meaningful step toward improving participation in drug take back programs and part of an all-of-the above strategy for protecting Americans from this crisis.”

“From rural America to the coasts and everywhere in between, the opioid epidemic ruins lives, families and entire communities,” said Senator Grassley. “There’s no quick fix that will solve the problem overnight, but critical preventive measures like take-back programs can go a long way to help stem the progression and spread of addiction,” said Grassley. “Nearly half of people who report misusing prescription drugs say they got them from a friend or family member’s medicine cabinet. Take-back programs can help stop this, but the federal government needs to step up. By providing grants to alleviate this financial burden, the bipartisan Access to Increased Drug Disposal Act encourages program participation and advances the national fight against opioid addiction.” 

“This commonsense, bipartisan measure will support efforts to remove unused and unwanted drugs from medicine cabinets before they do unexpected harm,” said Senator Blumenthal. “The diversion of prescription drugs from licensed distributors like pharmacies to the illegal drug trade has led millions of Americans down the path of addiction and death. Despite this troubling trend, only three percent of pharmacies and other eligible entities participate in critical drug take-back programs. Our bill will incentivize licensed distributors to participate in these proven programs.”

The AIDD Act is supported by the American Pharmacy Association, Iowa Pharmacy Association, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, and the National Community Pharmacists Association.