Curtis introduces bill to decrease opioid abuse during pregnancy

Congressman John Curtis introduced The Protecting Against Opioid Prescription-abuse During Prenatal Year Study Act, H.R. 5646, legislation that will improve research and public awareness of opioid use disorder during pregnancy.

The opioid epidemic is a national crisis, with a particularly devastating effect in Utah. Utah’s drug overdose rate is consistently ranked among the highest in the nation. 6 Utahns die every week from an opioid overdose.

“Sadly, Utah has the highest rate of opioid prescriptions for pregnant mothers in the country; double the national average. Women have been disproportionately affected by this epidemic and little is understood about the effect this has had on pregnant women,” said Congressman Curtis. “We need to improve our understanding of prescription opioid use during pregnancy, the effects that it can have on a mother and child, and how we can best help those who are pregnant and suffering from opioid use disorder. That’s why I introduced the POPPY Study Act.”

The POPPY Study Act calls for research and reports on the following:

  • The current opioid prescribing practices to women during pregnancy
  • Recommendations for reducing opioid misuse during pregnancy
  • Prescription opioid misuse during pregnancy and prescription opioid use during pregnancy for the purpose of Medicine-Assisted Treatment
  • Non-opiate pain management practices during pregnancy
  • Recommendations to increase public awareness of opioid use disorder, the effect of opioid use on an unborn child, and how to protect mother and child through available treatment resources

This bill is cosponsored by Rep. Rob Bishop (UT-01), Rep. Chris Stewart (UT-02), Rep. Mia Love (UT-04) and Rep. Diaz-Balart (FL-25) and is endorsed by the Association for Utah Community Health (AUCH), The Utah County Department of Drug and Alcohol Prevention and Treatment, and Intermountain Healthcare.

Congressman Chris Stewart understands that Utah has been greatly impacted by the opioid epidemic. “The opioid epidemic is heartbreaking. One truly tragic result is children born with addiction. I’m happy to support Congressman Curtis’ legislation to further understand and improve awareness of opioid use during pregnancy to help families in Utah and across the nation.”

Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart supports Curtis’ bill to seek and provide answers for this important issue. “The opioid epidemic is affecting Americans across the country, stealing parents, children, siblings, and other loved ones from their families. There is still much we do not know about the short and long-term impact of opioid abuse on pregnant women and their unborn children. I am glad to support this legislation that will provide for further research on opioid prescribing practices, use, and treatment for pregnant women.”

Alan Pruhs, the Executive Director of AUCH, recognizes the importance of research on how opioids affect expectant mothers. “An improved understanding of how pregnant women are impacted by the opioid epidemic would enhance the ability of HCs to provide comprehensive care for the pregnant patients they serve.”

Lisa Nichols, Community Health Executive Director added: “We are pleased that the Congressman is bringing awareness to this important issue. Utah leads the nation in opioid prescribing to pregnant women. It is vital to understand and address this prescribing to improve maternal and child health outcomes.”

Richard Nance, Director of the Utah County Department of Drug and Alcohol Prevention and Treatment, praised Congressman Curtis’ efforts to find solutions for the women that are disproportionately affected. He said: “your bill from the three major federal agencies concerned directly with this issue is essential to guide the nation on the best course of action to address this overlooked aspect of the current opiate epidemic.”

Read letters of support from The Utah County Department of Drug and Alcohol Prevention here and the Association for Utah Community Health here.