Murkowski Votes to Outlaw Synthetic Drugs Nationwide

Senator Supports Federal Crackdown on Spice/Bath Salts, Demands Improvements in Medication Availability

Senator Lisa Murkowski today voted for S.3187, the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act that contains several high-profile Alaska-related benefits – from making Alaska’s tough policy against synthetic drugs the national standard to improving the issue of drug shortages in Alaska and across the country.  The bill passed 92-4.

“I’m pleased that my vote today takes the common-sense Alaskan policies against these synthetic drugs and raises the national standard to match our own,” said Murkowski.   “Bath salts and Spice carry many of the same risks and negative physical or psychological impacts of other drugs, so law enforcement should look at them in that light.”

Synthetic cocaine, or bath salts, were reported to be appearing across Alaska late last year, raising concerns that the same issues raised by Spice in 2010 – leading to that synthetic, marijuana-like substance being outlawed in Alaska last June – were being seen again.  Bath salts were criminalized in Alaska earlier this month when Governor Parnell signed SB140.

For a thorough backgrounder on the dangers and warning signs of synthetic substances, visit the Partnership for a Drug-Free America’s guide by clicking here.

Drug Shortage Accountability

Senator Murkowski has fought in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, (HELP) for intra-hospital drug transfers recently, to ease the issue of drug shortages throughout Alaska.

Today’s bill contains a provision requiring that the Government Accounting Office conduct an annual study to look into the many reasons for drug shortages at health care facilities nationwide, and make recommendations to improve availability of needed drugs to patients in Alaska and across the country.  The first report is due no later than December 31, 2013, with subsequent reports expected by the end of every calendar year.

Crucial drug shortages have tripled nationwide in recent years.  Last year, the GAO produced a study that found manufacturing problems were the source of drug shortages in hospitals nationwide, and that the FDA needed to be given more information regularly on the flow of medications and where interruptions were reported.  The study required through today’s FDA bill will provide an update to how these recommendations are being processed.