Political notebook: Rep. Hudson to host opioid roundtable in Concord

Published 12:10 am Monday, March 26, 2018

Local Rep. Richard Hudson, R-08, will visit Serenity House in Concord on Tuesday to discuss with local leaders ways to improve responses to the national opioid crisis.

These efforts range from ensuring successful implementation of the laws passed last year to continuing to investigate and identify additional solutions that will help those battling addiction. It also involves improving prevention efforts and supporting local officials, law enforcement and the health care professionals responding to the crisis.

As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Hudson has worked with fellow members to learn more about how and why the opioid epidemic happened. The committee also evaluates legislative solutions for Congress to pursue.

Tuesday’s meeting falls just over a week after Rowan County commissioners voted to pursue a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

Hudson is dedicated to trying to find solutions to help prevent the misuse or diversion of unused opioids by safe, accessible disposal methods, a news release said.

Because of work on this issue, he was the only member of Congress from North Carolina to attend the White House’s announcement declaring the opioid crisis a public health emergency last October.

During a two-day Health Subcommittee hearing last week entitled, “Combating the Opioid Crisis: Prevention and Public Health Solutions,” Hudson talked with experts regarding disposals.

Experts included Dr. John Holaday, chairman and CEO of DisposeRx, a leading site-of-use medication disposal company which is located in Southern Pines. Both Hudson and Holaday spoke of the importance of educating patients on the proper use, storage and disposal of opioids and offering convenient disposal methods.

Hudson explained.

“DisposeRx manufactures a powder that mixes with water inside the pill bottle,” he said “… (It) renders any unused opioids not only inaccessible and inextricable, but also bio-degradable. It’s innovative ideas like this that we need to explore and I look forward to working with colleagues on the Committee to help treat and prevent this opioid addiction.”

Hudson also questioned Dr. Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, about the potential of overprescribing and the importance of safe, convenient disposal methods.

During the hearing, the Health Subcommittee considered more than two dozen bills aimed at boosting public health and prevention efforts. One bill, sponsored by Hudson, would direct the Food and Drug Administration to work with manufacturers and establish programs for efficient return or destruction of unused Schedule II drugs, with an emphasis on opioids.

These methods could include mail-back pouches to secure facilities for incineration, or methods to immediately inactivate/render unattractive unused drugs.

In addition, this bill will facilitate utilization of packaging that may reduce overprescribing of opioids. The bill will also require the Government Accountability Office to study innovative technologies that could safely dispose of opioids and other unused medications.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden said Hudson’s idea to study new technologies was a “commonsense idea.”

“Rep. Richard Hudson is taking opioid disposal another step further,”  said Walden. “… (T)he nonpartisan Government Accountability Office … would review and detail the effectiveness of these disposal methods.”

Last Congress, Hudson helped the committee lead two major initiatives being signed into law that provide critical resources for combating the opioid crisis.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act includes 11 committee bills ranging from additional resources to establishing an inter-agency task force to review, modify and update best practices for pain management.

The 21st Century Cures Act provides $1 billion in state grants to be applied to the fight on the front lines.

Primary Candidate Forum to be held early May

A Primary Candidate Forum for the Rowan County Commission race will be held on Tuesday, May 1 at 6 p.m.

The forum is sponsored by the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce, Salisbury Post, and Catawba College. It will be held at Catawba’s Tom Smith Auditorium in Ketner Hall.

Dr. Michael Bitzer, professor of politics at Catawba, will moderate the event.