CHARLESTON - With the funding now exhausted, the West Virginia House of Delegates' Committee on the Prevention and Treatment of Substance Abuse on Thursday created a bill to refill the coffers of the Ryan Brown Addiction Prevention and Recovery Fund and expand the scope in which those funds can be used.
The Ryan Brown fund, named for a friend of Del. Andrew Robinson, D-Kanawha, was created in 2017 by the Legislature and has since funded the creation of substance use disorder treatment beds across the state, including Project Hope in Huntington.
The $24 million in funding came from a Boone County settlement with drug wholesalers Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen. The bill the committee passed Thursday added language so any future settlements with a drug manufacturer, a drug wholesaler or retailer with the attorney general is required to have the proceeds placed in the fund.
The bill also allows the Office of Drug Control Policy to conduct ongoing assessments of the state's system of care for treatment and recovery services for substance use disorder and identify any gaps. The ODCP will share its recommendations with the newly created Governor's Council on Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment to review and prioritize the type and location of treatment and recovery services to be funded. The council will present an itemized list to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance.
The committee also passed two other bills Thursday.
The first was Senate Bill 63, which relates to partial filling of prescriptions. The purpose of the bill is to bring West Virginia code into conformity with federal law after the passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016, also known as CARA.
The committee approved a strike-and-insert amendment to the bill and sent it along to the Judiciary Committee.
The second was House Bill 2768, which clarifies provisions within the Opioid Use Reduction Act of 2018. The biggest update was clarifying that the bill relates to Schedule II opioids only. The original language of the bill used several different terms and was unclear.
The bill also adds a line stating that pharmacists are not responsible for enforcing the provisions of the code and they will not be punished by the Board of Pharmacy should they fill a prescription in violation of the act.
The line was supported by the Board of Pharmacy, but Robinson submitted an amendment to remove the line, stating that pharmacists are part of the problem the bill is trying to address - the overprescribing of addictive medications. His amendment was rejected by the committee.
The bill will be sent to the House floor.