Senators Gardner, Coons & Representatives Lance, Matsui Introduce Legislation to Address the Opioid Crisis Through the Prevention of Drug Diversion

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Chris Coons (D-DE) and U.S. Representatives Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Doris Matsui (D-CA) introduced 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 DEA Clearinghouse Act of 2018 eliminates this blind spot exploited by bad actors, guards against prescription drug diversion, and protects the integrity of the supply chain by requiring DEA to establish a national clearinghouse for all orders of controlled substances and requiring that all controlled substance orders pass through an automated database to identify suspicious orders and notify suppliers before the orders are filled. The DEA clearinghouse will detect potentially suspicious orders and protect against prescription drug diversion before it occurs.

“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.  “Stories like these are becoming all too common and it’s time for Congress to do more to protect communities being devastated by undetected prescription drug diversion. This commonsense legislation establishes an automated system to identify and stop drug diversion before it has the opportunity to harm our communities. I’m hopeful that my bipartisan measure with Senator Coons can help in our fight against this epidemic.” 

“I’m proud to join my colleagues, Senator Gardner and Representatives Lance and Matsui, in introducing this bill which will 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.”  

“The Drug Enforcement Agency is on the frontlines in the war against illegal use and distribution of opioids and other prescription medications.  Congress needs to give the DEA more tools to help respond to emerging and changing tactics.  The DEA Clearinghouse Act will help stop the bad actors who are diverting pills to users and dealers and flooding our communities with prescription opioids,” said Representative Lance. 

“We need to use every tool available to ensure prescription opioids are going to those who need them, and not to those who don’t,” said Representative Matsui. “This legislation would consolidate data from opioid manufacturers and distributors to ensure that they and the DEA have real-time systems in place to flag and stop suspicious activity. Today we are taking an important step in what needs to be continued, comprehensive work to fight the opioid crisis. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues, stakeholders, and the DEA to refine the legislation and make this tool as strong and effective as possible.”

The DEA Clearinghouse Act of 2018 is supported by the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. A one-pager on the bill is available here.