Cancer Patients and Survivors Call for Balanced, Comprehensive Opioid Package

ACS CAN Presses for Palliative Care Legislation to Help Address Opioid Crisis While Maintaining Access for Patients Living with Pain

June 22, 2018

Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Substance Use Disorder Prevention that Promotes Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act (SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act) with strong bipartisan support. The bill incorporates several opioid-related bills into one legislative package and includes key provisions that encourage the development and use of non-opioid medications; improves federal support of state run prescription drug monitoring programs; increases innovative research on pain treatment; and encourages the safe disposal of unused opioid medications by medical professionals and hospice workers.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) supports many of the provisions included in the House bill and continues to advocate for balanced solutions that won’t create unintended consequences for patients and survivors living with chronic or acute pain. ACS CAN and the Patient Quality of Life Coalition (PQLC) recently released data indicating that in the past two years cancer patients, survivors and others living with serious illnesses have experienced greater difficulty accessing their needed pain medication. To strike the appropriate balance of curbing misuse and abuse of opioids while maintaining access to pain care for patients with legitimate needs, ACS CAN calls on both the House and the Senate to consider the Palliative Care Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA). PCHETA (HR. 1676/ S. 693) is bipartisan legislation that would expand pain and symptom management training for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and others who treat pain patients with serious illnesses that result in chronic or acute pain.

A statement from Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network follows:

“Overall, the House bill passed today is a thoughtful and balanced approach to the very serious public health crisis that has arisen from the misuse and abuse of opioids in this country. Of particular promise are provisions that will increase critical resources for researchers to develop new, non-addictive pain treatments as well as provisions that will expand state-run prescription drug monitoring programs that have successfully helped rein in the abuse of opioids.

“While the SUPPORT for Communities and Patients Act makes significant strides toward responding to this public health crisis, we also urge the House and Senate to take up PCHETA, a bipartisan bill supported by 275 House co-sponsors and 29 Senate co-sponsors.  PCHETA would be a substantial step forward in providing doctors, nurses and other medical professionals with necessary education and training in pain management. Including PCHETA in a final opioid package would help strike an appropriate balance as Congress continues to work to curb abuse and misuse while ensuring access to pain care is preserved for patients with legitimate needs.

“We look forward to continuing our work with the House and the Senate to adopt important policies that address opioid abuse and misuse while ensuring appropriate access to medications is preserved for those who need it most.”


More Press Releases AboutPalliative Care

Media Contacts

Mike VanDenHeuvel
Senior Manager, Media Advocacy
Washington, D.C.
Alissa Crispino
Vice President, Media Advoacy
Washington, D.C.