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Bipartisan Senate Group Forms to Fight Prescription Drug Abuse

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A bipartisan group of senators has formed to fight prescription drug abuse, according to The Hill. The group will look for innovative solutions to opioid abuse.

The Prescription Drug Abuse Working Group, part of the Senate Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, will convene a series of meetings about prescription drug abuse, involving local, state and federal officials, private coalitions, and companies developing novel technologies for combating abuse. The group will focus on hydrocodone, oxycodone and other narcotics that can be easily abused, according to HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin of Iowa.

Committee Ranking Member Lamar Alexander of Tennessee has been an outspoken critic of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of the pure hydrocodone drug Zohydro. In February, he and two other Republican senators wrote to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to protest the agency’s decision to approve the drug. They wrote, “We believe the approval of pure hydrocodone products without methods to prevent abuse, misuse, and diversion, including abuse-deterrent formulations, poses a significant danger to our constituents, as it could worsen the drug abuse epidemic in our country.”

In a news release announcing the new Senate working group, Alexander said, “Not a day goes by that we don’t hear news of how prescription drug abuse is harming Americans across the nation, including in Tennessee. We are launching this working group to look at the problem from all angles—particularly what the federal government is doing to enable the mayors, governors, and law enforcement and public health officials who are working hard to address the problem.”

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