American Society of Anesthesiologists Partners with Congressman Jason Smith to Reduce Opioid Use in the Surgical Setting

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, legislation to address the opioid crisis, which includes provisions supported by the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) to advance opioid reducing initiatives in the surgical setting.

“It is heartening to see our expertise reflected in the inclusion of provisions from H.R. 5718, the Perioperative Reduction of Opioids (PRO) Act, in this much-needed compromise legislation aimed at helping address the nation’s ongoing opioid abuse epidemic,” said ASA President James D. Grant, M.D., M.B.A., FASA. “The surgical experience can be a patient’s first exposure to opioids. For some patients, that exposure can ultimately lead to opioid abuse and misuse. Physician anesthesiologists are experts in pain management and are uniquely suited to prevent opioid abuse and misuse by employing opioid-sparing techniques in the surgical setting. The PRO Act establishes a Technical Expert Panel to identify and promote these best practices to reduce opioids in the surgical setting and will involve medical and surgical specialty societies and hospital organizations to develop recommendations.”

ASA thanks U.S. Rep. Jason Smith (MO) and U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins (NY) for their leadership on this proposal that recognizes the surgical setting as a venue to prevent opioid misuse, abuse and addiction.

Physician anesthesiologists are committed to practices that minimize patients’ exposure to opioids, while ensuring patients have access to appropriate pain treatments. The Society applauds Congress for supporting mechanisms that promote these efforts. The provisions supported by ASA in H.R. 6 not only include the provision establishing a Technical Expert Panel on reducing surgical setting opioid use, but also include a grant program to promote best practices around alternatives to opioids and technical assistance for hospitals, emergency departments and other acute care settings; a study on the impact of state and federal prescribing limits; and grants to increase drug take-back and disposal programs.

The formation of the Technical Expert Panel was promoted by more than 600 physician anesthesiologists during LEGISLATIVE CONFERENCE 2018 in May and approved by the House Ways and Means Committee on the last day of the conference. Educating lawmakers about the role physician anesthesiologists play in surgery to reduce opioids was key to the inclusion of grant programs to promote best practices around alternatives to opioids in the surgical setting. ASA has long advocated for increased drug take-back and disposal programs and included this policy in previous “Hill Day asks.” ASA is also pleased its engagement with policymakers yielded a study, rather than statutory federal prescribing limits.

H.R. 6 was a result of negotiation over the past several weeks on compromise legislation between what the House and Senate passed in the last few months. Next, this bill will be considered by the Senate, which is expected to vote soon.

Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is an educational, research and scientific society with more than 52,000 members organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology. ASA is committed to ensuring physician anesthesiologists evaluate and supervise the medical care of patients before, during and after surgery to provide the highest quality and safest care every patient deserves.

For more information on the field of anesthesiology, visit the American Society of Anesthesiologists online at To learn more about the role physician anesthesiologists play in ensuring patient safety, visit

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