This week, Congress passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which aims to combat prescription drug abuse, especially opioids.
The original legislation was introduced by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM).
The law confronts the nation’s addiction crisis with the additional support of programs to prevent use and treat addiction, as well as provide positive reinforcement to individuals in recovery.
Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Portman, Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), having authored the bill’s Senate version that passed in March, celebrated the chamber’s 92-2 vote to pass the merged House-Senate bill.
The bill's next stop is President Obama's desk.
Together, the bipartisan contingent hosted five national forums beginning in 2014 to heighten awareness of addiction and recovery. They also networked with several national coalitions.
“This legislation sees addiction for what it is — a disease in need of treatment,” Whitehouse said. “I am proud to have worked with brave men and women in our recovery community and all the stakeholders who shared their knowledge and experience as we crafted this legislation. Now we must move quickly to ensure we have the funding in place for this bill to fully achieve its objectives.”
The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), which represents the nation's largest pharmacy-benefits management companies, praised the legislation specifically for its inclusion of a Medicare "Lock-In" program.
This program will keep questionable medications from crossing the counter at pharmacies through Medicare Part D’s cooperation in requiring patients to select and utilize one specific pharmacy, rather than risking over-procurement by customers “shopping” at multiple locations.
“This legislation will help save lives,” PCMA President and CEO Mark Merritt said. “The key to curbing ‘drugstore shopping’ for controlled substances is to stop improper prescriptions from being filled at the pharmacy counter in the first place.”