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US opioids: Congress passes bill to tackle epidemic but provides little new funding

BMJ 2018; 363 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k4253 (Published 09 October 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k4253
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

The US president, Donald Trump, is expected to sign legislation to tackle the opioid epidemic this week, after it passed both houses of Congress with large bipartisan majorities.

The 660 page SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act1 makes many policy changes long sought by clinicians. But it falls some way short of funding the broad expansion in addiction treatment that many experts say is needed to stem the crisis.

The bill passed the House by 393-8 votes and the Senate by 98-1. Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican who was the bill’s lead sponsor, said that, despite Democrats’ and Republicans’ contentious disagreement on other subjects, “we have an urgent, bipartisan consensus, a virtually unanimous agreement, to deal with the most urgent public health epidemic facing our country today.”

But several …

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