U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) vowed today to continue his fight against prescription drug abuse and find a way forward for his hydrocodone rescheduling amendment.
Two weeks ago, the Senate unanimously adopted a Manchin-sponsored measure to make it harder to get hydrocodone pills for illegitimate reasons. Senator Manchin's amendment to the FDA bill moved hydrocodone to the list of Schedule II substances from the list of Schedule III substances. Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a compromise version of the FDA bill that did not contain his provision. The Senate is now expected to also pass the bill without Senator Manchin's amendment, so that it is identical to the bill that passed the House.
In a speech on the Senate floor this afternoon, Senator Manchin expressed his deep disappointment that special interest groups were able to derail a strong amendment to fight the prescription drug abuse epidemic that is devastating communities all across this nation.
"They got their victory -- but not at my expense," Senator Manchin said. "The people who will pay the price are the young boys and girls in communities all across this nation who are seeing their families and their schools and their neighborhoods wrecked by abuse and addiction."
The Manchin amendment would require patients to get a new prescription to get their pills refilled. Pills would have to be stored and transported more securely, and traffickers would be subject to increased fines and penalties. Senator Manchin said he recognizes that this amendment doesn't necessarily fit into current business models, but historically public health concerns have prompted businesses to alter their original plans, hopefully voluntarily, but in some cases only as a result of government regulation -- and this is one of those times. Senator Manchin also said he is not giving up the fight to get his amendment signed into law.
"It doesn't look like my amendment will go in this bill, but I can assure you that it will not go away. And neither will the problem of drug abuse. I am determined to see this thing through. This measure will pass, whether it passes this year or next," Senator Manchin said.
"Until we do something, there are going to be families that are separated and torn apart because of drug abuse, and little kids who come to me -- and you -- and plead for help because their Daddy is addicted, or their Mom is on drugs, or someone they know has overdosed or died.
"I don't pretend that this amendment will solve the entire problem of prescription drug abuse. But when every law enforcement agency that we rely on to fight this war on drugs has supported this amendment and spoken out loud and clear that it would help them tremendously, I don't know how we can ignore this problem much longer."