Congressman Rick Nolan

Representing the 8th District of Minnesota
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Ban on Direct-to-Consumer Opioid Advertising and Doctor Marketing is Target of Nolan Draft Bill

Apr 24, 2018
Press Release

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Opening a new front in the battle against opioid addiction and abuse, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan today released draft legislation that would ban direct-to-consumer (DTC) pharmaceutical company advertising of opioid drugs and opioid receptor antagonists (which are prescribed to treat the side effects of opioids). The measure, which is still in draft form and seeking comments at Web-113-NolanRMN@housemail.house.gov, would also prohibit pharmaceutical companies or their agents from promoting these products to health care providers.

The hard cold fact is that over the years, the advertising of opioid pain killers and related drugs to doctors and patients – beginning with OxyContin in the mid 1990’s – has helped bring us to the point where there are nearly 43,000 opioid-linked drug fatalities in the United States every year,” Nolan pointed out. “That is more deaths than from breast cancer, vehicle crashes or gun violence. This epidemic crosses every regional, racial and ethnic divide. While opioid pain killers must continue to be available to patients who need them, carefully monitored by a doctor’s prescription, it’s time to prohibit pharmaceutical companies from spending billions of dollars encouraging the widespread use of these powerful and dangerous medications through advertising.”

Specifically, Nolan’s 'Opioid Advertising and Prescriber Prohibition Act of 2018' would amend Section 301 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 331) to accomplish these objectives. Under the proposal, drugs such as those commonly seen on T.V. to treat opioid-induced constipation would be covered by the DTC ban, as well as a larger list of treatments as defined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The Controlled Substances Act (Sec. 102) already defines opioids that would be prohibited under the bill. 

Nolan noted that his draft legislation would serve to codify moves within the pharmaceutical industry itself to curb opioid advertising. Purdue Pharma, earlier singled out by the federal government for its “aggressive” marketing of OxyContin, recently announced that it will voluntarily stop marketing the highly addictive drug to doctors.

"Before introducing the bill itself, we are seeking input and ideas from doctors, patients, pharmaceutical companies and anyone else with an interest in addressing the problem of opioid abuse and addiction," Nolan added. Comments on the proposed legislation are welcome at Web-113-NolanRMN@housemail.house.gov and requested before close of business on Friday, June 1st, 2018.

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