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Washington-Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers including Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Representatives Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) and Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) to again call on the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to finalize "partial fill" regulations as rates of opioid overdose deaths rise nationwide and as COVID-19 continues to have an outsized impact on opioid use disorder patients.

"More than 10 million people aged 12 and older reported abusing an opioid in the past year, with over 50 percent of those who abused a prescription pain reliever reporting that they obtained it from a friend or family member, and just 37 percent as a prescription from their doctor," the lawmakers wrote. "Additionally, since the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, 40 states have reported increases of opioid overdoses."

"The ready availability of opioids to millions of Americans and the disruption of life-saving treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic have compounded this ongoing national crisis. Defining 'partial fill' and fully implementing Section 702 of CARA will reduce the number of prescription opioids in circulation, a crucial step in addressing the opioid crisis that is devastating communities across the country. DEA's continuing foot-dragging on this issue puts Americans at risk," the lawmakers continued. 

The letter follows a similar request from the lawmakers in July 2018 in which they pressed DEA to update outdated regulations on partial filling of Schedule II controlled substances. In December 2017, the lawmakers urged the DEA to issue updated regulations and guidance regarding partial filling of Schedule II controlled substances. 

Section 702 of the 2016 Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) helps reduce the number of unused opioids in circulation by allowing patients to take home only a portion of their opioid prescription and later return to the pharmacy to have the remainder filled if their pain continues. This affords both patients and doctors greater control over the amount of opiates in their possession and in circulation. However, the DEA's current definition for "partial fill" only allows a "partial fill" if the pharmacist does not have enough medication on hand to completely fill a prescription. This outdated definition prevents pharmacists from fulfilling the intent of Section 702. 

The full text of the letter is available here.