The United States is in the midst of one of the deadliest drug epidemics in its history: the opioid crisis. The relevant players- prominent physicians, federal investigators, and multiple presidents, to name a few-have demonstrated a desire to combat the crisis, but they have not always focused on addressing one of the crisis's most prominent causes. This Comment starts by identifying a major cause of the opioid crisis-physician-prescribed opioid painkillers-and then advocates for federal regulation and monitoring through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as a remedy.
Under the current statutory regime, HHS has the power to control aspects of physician behavior, which could, include the rate and volume of opioid prescribing. This power derives from HHS's exclusion authority, which empowers the agency to prevent certain doctors from receiving federal funding. HHS has statutory authority to exclude physicians who furnish items "in excess of their patient's needs." This power could serve as a useful tool in combating the crisis, but to achieve the maximum crisis-mitigating effect, the regulations interpreting the statute should be amended to more clearly cover doctors' prescribing habits. Reducing physician prescribed opioids would have a powerful and mitigating impact on the opioid crisis, and the federal government has the statutory tools to accomplish it.
Redefining What It Means to "Furnish Items in Excess of a Patient's Needs": A Federal Tool to Guide Physician Prescribing Behavior and Combat the Opioid Crisis,
U. Colo. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholar.law.colorado.edu/lawreview/vol90/iss4/6