Advocacy Updates

President Trump signs comprehenssive opioid package into law

One year ago, President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency. On Wednesday, the opioid package was signed into law with $8.5 billion allocated for opioid solutions. This will provide critical funding to the states to combat the growing opioid crisis across America.

Key components of the bill include funding for addiction treatment, recovery housing and job training for people with substance use disorder and a lift on an outdated rule which barred Medicaid from covering addiction treatment in facilities with more than 16 beds. Expanding access to medication assisted treatment is another function of the bill, widening the scope of prescribing for non-physician prescribers.

With fentanyl now the leading cause of opioid overdoses in our country, measures to tighten postage tracking will also be implemented.

The bill allocates the money over the next year. Although the bill is an excellent step in the right direction and an example of bipartisan cooperation to address the crisis, until addiction is treated as a disease by society and truly confronted as a public health emergency, we will continue to see an influx of overdose deaths and the number of individuals suffering from the disease of addiction. Fighting systemic injustices is critical. Insurers upholding parity, coverage of addiction treatment, standards of care for recovery residences, compassion and care towards those who use opioids to manage pain, reducing addiction stigma; all are essential changes we need.

The funds are simply not enough. Hundreds of billions are needed over multiple years. A proposal by Sen. Warren and Sen. Cummings would have done just that. Modeled after the Ryan White CARE Act, legislation that funded solutions and support for communities impacted by HIV/AIDS, the Warren-Cummings proposal called for $100 billion over 10 years. This proposal was not included in the final opioid bill. With more attention to treatment for opioid use disorder, it’s important for us to also advocate for recovery services. Recovery for the individual and the family.

These funds would never have been made available without you. You called, emailed, showed up, and told your stories. We, as a coalition, work together as individuals and organizations to advocate for these changes, to save lives, to deliver compassion to our communities. Only together are we a powerful constituency, a unified message, a coalition. We have a lot of work ahead of us. Today, the Ensuring Patient Access and Drug Enforcement Act still stands, the FDA continues to approve new, highly potent opioids, and overdose deaths continue to soar.

We will continue to demand Federal action, to rally in cities across the country, and raise our voices. We’ll push forward in our local communities with the work of our organizations and the advocacy of the individuals demanding change.

Arsonist Awarded Patent for Fire Extinguisher! Shocking?  So is this recent news …..

Richard Sackler, the former Chairman and President of Purdue Pharma, and Rhodes Pharmaceutical (a subsidiary of Purdue Pharma) have been awarded a patent for treatment of opioid use disorder, the disorder the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma knowingly fueled along with overdose, death and family tragedy.

At a minimum the patent should serve the public good and provide no economic benefit to the Sackler Family.

The patent petition ignores Purdue Pharma’s role and responsibility for creating the need for the invention. The application for the patent (Patent no. 9861628) includes the following:

“Chronic pain, which may be due to idiopathic reasons, cancer or other diseases such as rheumatism and arthritis, is typically treated with strong opioids.

“Thus, if opioids are taken by healthy human subjects with a drug seeking behavior they may lead to psychological as well as physical dependence.”

“One of the fundamental problems of illicit drug use by drug addicts (“junkies”) who are dependent on the constant intake of illegal drugs such as heroin is the drug related criminal activities resorted to by such addicts in order to raise enough money to fund their addiction.”

Outrageous, dishonest and lacking any acknowledgement of responsibility for fueling the opioid epidemic thru deceptive marketing and promotion of Sackler products.

FDA approval of a product made through this patent and a company (Rhodes) set up to obscure the Sackler connection would allow the Sackler family to reap more profits from a treatment for the epidemic caused by Sackler family products.

We cannot allow this to happen. 

Sign up for our mailing list today and we’ll let you know how you can help as plans are formulated to make sure that the Sacklers never profit from this new patent.

PhRMA is NOT Our Friend: Why Addiction Policy Forum Does Not Represent Our Movement

-By Daniel Busch, MD, Advocacy Chair, FED UP! Coalition

Addiction Policy Forum (APF) and its Founder, CEO, and President, Jessica Nickel, have become a force within the addiction advocacy movement. Ms. Nickel is widely respected. She is bright, capable, and gets things done. In the past year, she has testified before the President’s Opioid Commission and before important congressional committees and subcommittees.

APF now has chapters in 19 states. Twelve of these have been founded since mid-April, 2018. Many of the chapters are led by excellent people devoted to addiction treatment. APF recently launched its Addiction Resource Center, a user-friendly website to locate local addiction treatment resources,

So what’s the problem?
The problem is the relationship between Ms. Nickel and the pharmaceutical industry.

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April 2018 Advocacy Update

The long delay since the last Advocacy Update does not reflect the pace of activities in the opioid addiction epidemic or in FED UP!

The terrible news that came in December was a shocking 27.7% increase in opioid overdose deaths.  350,000 Americans have now died of opioid overdose deaths since the epidemic began in 1999.  Between 2015 and 2016, deaths due to fentanyl and analogues more than doubled from 9,945 to 20,145, and more opioid deaths in 2016 involved fentanyl than either prescription opioids or heroin. Fentanyl is 50-100 times stronger than heroin, and users have no way to know how much fentanyl has been added to their heroin, or whether their entire heroin dose is in fact fentanyl.  Heroin has always been a dangerous drug, but as fentanyl-laced heroin became common, the death rate for heroin users tripled.

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State of the Epidemic

Daniel Busch, M.D.
Chair FED UP! Coalition Advocacy Committee

The last few months have certainly demonstrated the real inadequacy of the Federal Government’s efforts in dealing with the epidemic of opioid addiction. The worst news has been the ongoing escalation in opioid overdose deaths.

The number of opioid deaths rose from 33,091 in 2016
to 42,249 in 2016, an increase of 27.7% in a single year. The total of number of opioid deaths in the epidemic rose to over 350,000

Furthermore, provisional CDC data indicate that there has been a rise of another 8.1% of opioid deaths in 2017, which would bring the number of opioid deaths to 69,000 in 2017.

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Fall 2017 Update

Our August FED UP Rally included a press event at the National Press Club calling for FDA removal of high dose opioids, a networking luncheon for partners to share advocacy practices, and a march to the White House and a candlelight vigil for hundreds of our followers. We believe our voices are being heard and reflected in a number of important addiction-fighting developments this fall.

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June 2017 Update

The FED UP Coalition is saddened to report that opioid-related overdose deaths continue to rise, seemingly unabated.  Nationally, opioid overdose deaths rose 15% from 28,647 in 2014 to 33,091 in 2015. Heroin overdose deaths are skyrocketing because fentanyl is frequently mixed in with the heroin or sold as heroin. Final 2016 statistics, when reviewed and released by the CDC, are expected to be even more horrific.

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January 2017 Update

As 2017 begins, we all are numbed by the continued horrific increase in overdose deaths involving opioids which rose from 28,647 in 2014 to 33,091 in 2015. Heroin overdose deaths rose from 10,574 in 2014 to 12,990 in 2015, an increase of 23 percent. Heroin continues to flood our communities and new threats in the form of Fentanyl and Carfentanil are continuing to emerge virtually unstopped.  When final 2016 statistics are revealed by the CDC, those deaths are expected to be even more gruesome.

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December 2016 Update

In the final days of 2016, the federal government took an important step toward controlling the opioid addiction epidemic. A bill signed into law on December 13th called the 21st Century Cures Act includes $1 billion in grants to states to expand access to opioid addiction treatment. FED UP fought long and hard for this funding. In recognition of our efforts, Judy Rummler (FED UP’s chairperson) was invited to the signing ceremony at the White House.

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