D.C. Update – March 1, 2017


News from the States

Capitol Hill Happenings

Around the Agencies

In the News

Upcoming Events

Stakeholder Spotlight


News from the States

Virginia Gov. McAuliffe signs bills to battle opioid crisis

Last week Governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia signed several bills that aim to address opioid addiction and overdose. Provisions in the bills will: allow community organizations to possess and dispense naloxone to those that they train to use it; allow local health departments to administer harm reduction programs in parts of the State with very high rates of HIV and Hepatitis C; initiate a family assessment and plan of care for mother and baby if an infant was exposed to substances in utero; and mandate that all opioid prescriptions will be transmitted to pharmacies electronically.

Read a press release on the opioid bills here.

Ohio Substance Abuse Monitoring Network newsletter highlights misuse of anticonvulsant medication gabapentin

On Monday the Ohio Substance Abuse Monitoring (OSAM) Network released its newest newsletter, OSAM-o-Gram. The newsletter highlights the use of gabapentin—an anticonvulsant medication—for the treatment of chronic nerve pain in adults. Gabapentin is a non-narcotic medication thought to have a low abuse profile. However, the newsletter notes that among OSAM focus group participants, the medication is increasingly being used illicitly. Misuse of gabapentin is mostly among individuals with a history of opioid abuse.

Read the full newsletter here.

Capitol Hill Happenings

Leaders of House Energy & Commerce Committee send letter to ONDCP Acting Director Chester on fentanyl  

Last week, bipartisan leaders of the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to Kemp Chester, Acting Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) focused on fentanyl. Specifically, the letter requested ONDCP’s assistance in questioning federal agencies about their plans to address the synthetic opioid fentanyl. The letter includes fifteen questions related to fentanyl trafficking, overdose deaths, and enforcement efforts. The letter was sent by full committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ), as well as Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) and Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO). A coordinated response was requested by the Committee from ONDCP by March 2nd.

Read the full letter here.

Around the Agencies

Director of NIDA, Dr. Nora Volkow, blogs about recent National Academy of Sciences report on cannabis and cannabinoids

Last month the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) released a report on The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids. The report provides a comprehensive review of scientific evidence related to the health effects and potential medical uses of cannabis, and outlines gaps in current knowledge. Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), wrote about the new report in her latest blog post. In her blog, Dr. Volkow reviews the major findings of the report and offers reactions to some of the conclusions of the report, noting the complexities of cannabis, cannabinoids, and their health effects, as well as the need for further research.

Read Dr. Volkow’s full blog post here.

Read the National Academy of Sciences report here.

In the News

WHO releases new guidelines on testing for chronic hepatitis B and C

The World Health Organization has released new guidelines on testing for chronic hepatitis B (HBV) and C (HCV).  The guidelines outline the public health approach to strengthening and expanding current testing practices for HBV and HCV, and are meant to be used across age groups and populations. The document is organized into three sections: 1) Introduction: epidemiology, natural history, and in vitro diagnostic assays for HBV and HCV infection; 2) Recommendations: Summary of recommendations, and evidence and rationale for those recommendations; and 3) Implementation: guidance to support implementation of these recommendations at the country level, which includes a framework for country decision-making and planning. These are the first WHO guidelines on testing for chronic HBV and HCV infection, and they complement existing WHO guidance on the prevention and treatment of chronic hepatitis C and hepatitis B infection.

Access the new guidelines here.

NAADAC Minority Fellowship Program now accepting applications

NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, is now accepting applications for its Minority Fellowship Program for Addiction Counselors (NMFP-AC) for the 2017-2018 academic year. Fellows receive a tuition stipend of up to $15,000, as well as training, education, professional development, and mentorship from professionals in the addiction field. Eligible applicants are those who are enrolled in an addiction counseling master’s degree program or a master’s degree program in counseling with an addiction track, and who meet several other criteria. NMFP-AC aims to increase the number of culturally-competent master’s level addiction counselors available to serve underserved and minority populations, as well as transition-aged youth.

Learn more about the Minority Fellowship Program here.

Upcoming Events

Webinar on Complex Trauma, Children, and the Health Home Option: Moving Research and Practice to Policy

This National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) is hosting a webinar on Complex Trauma, Children, and the Health Home Option: Moving Research and Practice to Policy. The webinar will describe how NCTSN researchers and practitioners worked with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the New York State Department of Health to establish complex trauma in children as an eligible condition for health home coverage. The webinar will feature several State and federal speakers, including Dr. Larke Nahme Huang, Director of Behavioral Health Equity, and Lead for the Trauma and Justice Strategic Initiative at SAMHSA.

The webinar will be held on Friday, March 10th from 12:00pm-1:30pm EST.

Register for the webinar here. First time NCTSN Learning Center webinar participants will need to set up a free account before registering for the webinar.

Stakeholder Spotlight

The D.C. Update from the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD) is now featuring a “Stakeholder Spotlight” to highlight the work of a stakeholder group with which NASADAD works closely. The Spotlight will include background on an organization that impacts the substance use disorder field and describe NASADAD’s collaborative efforts with them. This week we’re catching up with the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH).

Catching Up with the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH)

Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to “saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority.” TFAH has three overarching priorities: 1) Achieve optimal federal support for public health; 2) Advance a modernized public health system; and 3) Highlight key health issues to help advance and improve the public’s health and the public health system. While TFAH addresses a broad range of health issues, in recent years the organization has focused on opioid addiction as a public health crisis. In its Blueprint for a Healthier America 2016: Policy Priorities for the Next Administration and Congress, TFAH emphasized the impact of substance use disorders on communities, highlighting the returns on investment of effective substance use prevention strategies.

NASADAD works with TFAH staff to align legislative priorities as well as funding priorities related to substance use disorder service delivery, especially for programs within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In particular, NASADAD collaborates with TFAH as part of the Collaborative for Effective Prescription Opioid Policies (CEPOP), a coalition of stakeholders interested in the appropriate use of opioid medications. We are appreciative of TFAH’s commitment to addressing the opioid crisis, and we are especially grateful for the contributions of Becky Salay, Director of Government Relations, Dalen Harris, the new Director of External Relations and Outreach, and leadership of John Auerbach, President and CEO, and Richard Hamburg, Executive Vice President and COO.

Learn more about TFAH here.

Read TFAH’s Blueprint for a Healthier America 2016 here.


Should you have any questions, or require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact Robert Morrison, Executive Director, or Shalini Wickramatilake-Templeman, Federal Affairs Manager, at (202) 293-0090.