U.S. Representative Andrew Harris (R-Md.) said he is concerned about the "incrementalism of marijuana legislation." Harris spoke at the National Rx Drug Abuse Summit in Atlanta along with six other Congressional leaders.
Harris also said he believes marijuana is a gateway drug and evidence does not show it to be safe or effective in treating the many medical conditions that it is used for today. He wants to see more research on marijuana, especially given the large-scale legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in the United States.
Also speaking on the Congressional panel, U.S. Representative Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) said he was pleased that the FDA has finalized its guidance on abuse-deterrent medications, calling it a huge step forward.
"It sends a strong message to (the drug) industry that it is a safe bet to make the requisite investments in these new, emerging technologies that make painkillers more difficult to abuse,” Rogers said. “It creates incentives for innovation, and I'm hopeful that somewhere out there is a young scientist with our silver bullet."
The legislators also highlighted pieces of legislation that they are either currently sponsoring or intend to introduce related to prescription drug abuse.
- Rx Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act: funds a grant program for states and nonprofit entities for consumer education about opioid abuse, including methadone abuse, and sets forth training requirements for practitioners.
- FDA Accountability for Public Safety Act: would ensure that "expert voices are heard" on any review of opioid medications and make the FDA commissioner more responsible to Congress for new-drug approvals. This bill is in reaction to the recent approval of Zohodro (hydrocodone bitartrate) despite overwhelming opposition by an FDA advisory panel.
- Protecting Our Infants Act: would take proactive steps to deal with opiate dependency in newborns.
An additional piece of legislation that is being drafted currently would break down regulatory hurdles and licensing barriers for new programs and new methods of care for treating addiction.