U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is currently leading the largest Congressional investigation to date into the opioid epidemic and she is praising the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital after a recent VA report showed a 34% decrease in opioid prescribing at the facility between 2012-2017.

A press release from McCaskill's office says the senator is seeking additional details about decreasing opioid use within the VA healthcare system nationally.

“The Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital is setting an example for our state and our country on how to cut down on unnecessary opioid prescriptions,” McCaskill said. “As we’ve seen during the course of my investigation into opioid manufacturers, our sky-high prescription rates came in the aftermath of targeted marketing campaigns and minimizing the risks of addiction—it’s great to see the VA start to reverse a decades-long trend of increased use.”

Earlier this year, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) issued a report that analyzed opioid prescribing data at VA Medical Centers as a part of their Opioid Safety Initiative. At the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital, opioid prescribing rates reportedly  decreased by 34%.

“While there are innumerable challenges in addressing [the opioid] epidemic, there has been measurable progress within the VA healthcare system,” McCaskill wrote in a letter to VA Secretary David Shulkin.

McCaskill requested details on what the VA will do to “build on the initial success of the Opioid Safety Initiative and continue the decrease in opioid prescribing rates.” She also asked about the VA’s opioid prescribing guidelines and its efforts to share lessons from its initiative with the private sector.

Last year, McCaskill's office began an investigation into opioid manufacturers, which is described as the most comprehensive Congressional investigation into the matter, when she requested information related to sales and marketing materials, internal addiction studies, details on compliance with government settlements, and donations to third party advocacy groups from major opioid manufacturers.

The investigation continued and the senator's office requested documents and information from opioid manufacturers Mallinckrodt, Endo, Teva, and Allergan, while a request to McKesson Corporation, AmerisourceBergen Corporation, and Cardinal Health, Inc., focused on their distribution of opioid products.

In September, the first round of findings that reportedly detailed systemic manipulation of the prior authorization process by Insys Therapeutics.

McCaskill’s latest report, issued earlier this year, describes how manufacturers of opioids have made significant financial investments into third party organizations—groups which in turn have often engaged in pro-opioid advocacy.

McCaskill is currently working on legislation in an effort to strengthen the Drug Enforcement Administration’s opioid enforcement abilities.

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