Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (CA-45), Co-Chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse, today joined forces with her friend and colleague, Congressman Bill Keating (MA-10), to introduce the "Stop the Tampering of Prescription Pills" (STOPP) Act.
During a press conference on Capitol Hill, Congresswoman Bono Mack said the legislation will potentially save thousands of lives:
"The STOPP Act throws up a stop sign for people trying to adulterate a prescription medicine's time-release or immediate-release mechanisms. Today, people try to get high by crushing pills into powder, chewing them, dissolving them in water, or by injecting them. What we hope to do is make opioid painkillers tamper resistant. Technologies exist today to make it much more difficult to abuse these medicines. Both Purdue and Pfizer have developed tamper-resistant products, and several other companies are working on similar versions. The STOPP Act is guided by a simple principal: If a drug presently on the market has a tamper-resistant feature, then all other drugs with similar chemical properties must eventually have that feature as well. Companies that refuse will be told by the FDA to reformulate or withdraw their drug from the market. It becomes a "use it or lose it' proposition.
"Prescription drug abuse is not just a public health epidemic -- it's a national tragedy. But through the increased use of tamper-resistant medicines, we may see hopelessness replaced by hope. What's needed now is a comprehensive national strategy for combating prescription drug abuse, especially when it comes to narcotic painkillers. The STOPP Act should be part of that strategy. More than 20,000 Americans a year are dying from prescription drug abuse -- over 15,000 from painkillers alone. What's more, the number of babies born addicted to the class of drugs that includes prescription painkillers has tripled in the past decade, and one out of four high school seniors has used prescription painkillers. Today, these highly-addictive drugs claim more lives than cocaine and heroin combined. The STOPP Act is an important step forward in a critically important fight to save lives."
Congressman Keating, who is also a member of the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse and the Youth Drug Caucus, made the following statement:
"For far too long, abuse of prescription painkillers was approached from a criminal standpoint. But it is so much more than that -- it is a health problem, a family problem, a community problem, an education problem. When a member of a family suffers from substance abuse problems it touches every aspect of the lives of all members of the family. We need to fight to remove the stigma associated with prescription drug abuse and provide better education and resources. But all of that could be for naught without properly regulating these addictive painkillers. The STOPP Act will make tamper-resistant painkillers the norm, not the anomaly. This alone will not solve the problem, but it's a proactive step in the right direction that might save hundreds of lives across the country."