Press Releases

Dr. Dunn: Our Veterans Deserve Better

Dunn Veterans Opioid Bill Moves in the House

Apr 17 2018

WASHINGTON, DC – In a move to curb opioid abuse among veterans, the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a hearing on Congressman Neal Dunn’s, M.D. (FL-02) legislation, the Veterans Opioid Abuse Prevention Act. This important legislation directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to have healthcare providers share prescribing data across a national network of interstate prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs). PDMPs track prescribing data to identify abuse patterns in patients.

Just like private sector physicians, VA doctors consult state-based PDMPs before prescribing potentially dangerous pain medications to veterans. VA doctors, however, lack the ability to consult a national network of state-based PDMPs that can identify someone from another state who is at high risk for abuse, overdose, and death.

“The opioid epidemic is ravaging this nation and our military heroes are being hit especially hard. Veterans return from war with both visible and invisible wounds, making them more vulnerable to prescription opioid addiction. Our veterans deserve better,” said Dr. Dunn, himself an Army veteran and member of the House VA Committee. “By opening the lines of communication and allowing doctors both at the VA and across the nation to have the tools to identify opioid abuse patterns, we can ensure that no one, especially our nation’s heroes, slips through the cracks.”

“When it comes to treating chronic pain with opiates, we must take every step to ensure VA is minimizing veterans’ risk of addiction. Dr. Dunn’s legislation to improve information sharing between the department and state-based prescription drug monitoring programs is an important step toward identifying and treating veterans suffering from opioid addiction. We have a duty to provide quality, cutting-edge care for all eligible veterans who have worn the uniform of our nation, and this bill makes good on that promise,” said House Veterans’ Affairs Chairman, Dr. Phil Roe (TN-01).

"As an Army physician, I know firsthand how important it is to take every necessary precaution to help identify and address opioid addiction among veteran patients. This important legislation would help prevent opioid abuse among veterans by allowing for the greater sharing of information between VA and state-based prescription drug monitoring programs. I’m grateful to Dr. Dunn for his leadership on this legislation, and I look forward to continuing our work to protect our nation’s heroes from the dangers of opioid abuse," said Health Subcommittee Chairman Bread Wenstrup (OH-02).

The President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis issued a preliminary report in July of 2017 that cited the lack of cross-state interoperability as one significant shortcoming of state PDMPs. The Commission recommended “enhancing interstate data sharing among state-based prescription drug monitoring programs.” Dr. Dunn’s legislation addresses President Trump’s recommendation and will allow VA doctors to access existing national networks of state PDMPs to prevent and stop opioid abuse among our veterans.

“Opioid addiction is destroying the lives of veterans across the country – it’s time to stand up and fight for those who fought for our freedoms,” added Dr. Dunn.

The legislation is supported by Paralyzed Veterans of America, the American Legion, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Dr. Dunn’s legislation has 31 cosponsors, including House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (OR-02), and the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force Co-Chair Anne McLane Kuster (NH-02).