H.R. 4599, Reducing Unused Medications Act of 2016

H.R. 4599

Reducing Unused Medications Act of 2016

Rep. Katherine M. Clark

May 11, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
John Huston

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, May 11, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 4599, the Reducing Unused Medications Act of 2016, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 4599 was introduced on February 24, 2016, by Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA), and was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, which ordered the bill reported as amended by voice vote on April 27, 2016.

Bill Summary

H.R. 4599 amends the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to clarify when a prescription for a drug listed on Schedule II of the CSA may be partially filled. In addition, the legislation requires the pharmacist to update the record for each time the prescription is partially filled and does not allow partial fillings to exceed the total quantity prescribed.


Prescription drug misuse and abuse is the intentional or unintentional use of medication without a prescription, in a way other than prescribed, or for the experience or feeling it causes. Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) indicates that about 15 million people aged 12 or older used prescription drugs non-medically in the past year, and 6.5 million did so in the past month. The issue is a growing national problem in the United States as prescription drugs are being abused more often than any other drug, except marijuana and alcohol. The growth is fueled by misperceptions about prescription drug safety, and increasing availability.[1]

Drug overdose is the leading cause of injury death in the United States. The death rate from drug overdose in the United States more than doubled during 1999-2013, from 6.0 per 100,000 populations in 1999 to 13.8 in 2013. The increase in drug overdoses is attributable primarily to the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs, especially opioid analgesics, sedatives/tranquilizers, and stimulants. Such drugs are prescribed widely in the United States, with substantial variation by state. Certain patients obtain drugs for nonmedical use or resale by obtaining overlapping prescriptions from multiple prescribers.[2]

Schedule II drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.. Some examples of Schedule II drugs are hydromorphone (Dilaudid), hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin), and Adderall.[3]

According to the bill’s sponsor, “Millions of half-filled bottles of unused prescription drugs line our families’ medicine cabinets, and too often, that is where opioid addiction begins. The Reducing Unused Medications Act of 2016 empowers patients to manage their prescriptions responsibly and reduces the number of unused and unwanted painkillers that are fueling our nation’s opioid epidemic.”[4]

[1] See Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “Prescription Drug Misuse and Abuse
[2] See CDC, “Controlled Substance Prescribing Patterns – Prescription Behavior Surveillance System, Eight States, 2013
[3] See DEA “Drug Scheduling
[4] See Rep. Katherine Clark Press Release, “Warren, Clark, Capito and Stivers Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Allow Partial Filling of Opioid Prescriptions,” February 24, 2016.


A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate is currently not available.

Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact John Huston with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-5539.