10.23.19

Gardner, Coons Introduce Legislation to Address the Opioid Crisis Through the Prevention of Drug Diversion

Washington, D.C. – Today U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced the Suspicious Order Identification Act of 2019, legislation to prevent drug diversion in real time before it has the ability to inflict damage in our communities. 

Currently, no law enforcement agency or private party has the ability to provide real-time, nationwide oversight of all orders for controlled substances, which is a major contributing factor to disproportionate prescription opioid shipments to certain pharmacies across the country. The Suspicious Order Identification Act of 2019 eliminates this blind spot exploited by bad actors, guards against prescription drug diversion, and protects the integrity of the supply chain by requiring the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to create a program to share data in real-time to ensure that the supply chain is able to stop a suspicious order before it is filled. 

“A few years ago, the DEA discovered a major drug company was shipping enough prescription opioids to the San Luis Valley for every man, woman and child to have 30 to 60 pills per month,” said Senator Gardner. “The data shows that this is a common occurrence, and it’s time for Congress to do more to protect communities being devastated by undetected prescription drug diversion. This commonsense legislation will leverage data to ensure that we stop bad actors in real-time. I’m hopeful that my bipartisan measure with Senator Coons can help in our fight against this epidemic.”

“I’m proud to join Senator Gardner to introduce this bill to prevent unnecessary drug shipments from wreaking havoc on our communities,” said Senator Coons. “This is a commonsense proposal that will shore up our drug supply chain—eliminating blind spots and keeping our communities safer and healthier. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this bill into law.”

In September 2019, the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General report demonstrated that more can be done to leverage the DEA’s Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System (ARCOS) data to prevent diversion, which holds potential harm for communities. 

Senators Gardner and Coons’ legislation will require that the DEA convene a task force to recommend the most effective program to share data and prevent diversion in real-time. From there, the DEA will review those recommendations and implement a real-time solution within one year. It also requires an immediate transition to monthly reporting.

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Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.