Grand Rapids doctor testifies in D.C. on opioid crisis and drug shortage

Nationally-recognized palliative care physician John. Mulder, M.D., medical director at Grand Rapids-based senior care provider Holland Home, testified in Washington D.C. Feb. 28 before the Subcommittee on Health on the national opioid crisis. Dr. Mulder is testifying in support of House Resolution 5041 that seeks to authorize certified hospice providers to dispose of controlled substances such as opioids after a hospice patient’s death. The intent is to prevent the drugs from being left in the home and used illegally. He is also testifying to encourage federal drug enforcement agencies to allow for adequate opioid production to continue in anticipation of a shortage due to hurricane damage to production facilities in Puerto Rico.

Proper Disposal

“We believe H.R. 5041 represents a common-sense, real-world approach to allowing hospice agencies to authorize their personnel to safely handle controlled substances in a patient’s residence for the sole purpose of assisting in their proper disposal after a hospice patient’s death,” stated Dr. Mulder in his filed remarks.

Opioid shortage due to hurricane

Another point that Dr. Mulder made concerns the need for the Drug Enforcement Agency to allow increased production of pain medication to help alleviate the expected shortage due to damage inflicted by Hurricane Maria at production facilities in Puerto Rico.

“We fully appreciate that a vital step in reducing the prevalence of opioid abuse is to reduce overproduction of these medications, thereby limiting the amount that may be available for diversion. However, hospice and hospital providers must have timely and affordable access to medications that are necessary to treat their patients effectively. A hallmark of palliative care is ensuring that we do all that we can to address unnecessary and debilitating pain, and many hospices are fearful that they will be unable to do that in future months,” said Dr. Mulder.

His full testimony can be found at http://docs.house.gov/meetings/IF/IF14/20180228/106915/HHRG-115-IF14-Wstate-MulderJ-20180228.pdf

More information on the house session can be found at: http://docts.house.gov/Committee/Calendar/ByEvent.aspx?EventID=106915