Reps. Brooks and Kennedy Lead Effort to Tackle Opioid and Heroin Abuse Epidemics
Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks (R-IN5) and Congressman Joe Kennedy III (D-MA4) introduced legislation today aiming to curb the nation’s growing prescription drug and heroin abuse epidemics. The “Heroin and Prescription Opioid Abuse Prevention, Education, and Enforcement Act of 2015” targets several areas of need critical to reducing the number of painkiller and heroin overdose deaths each year. The legislation will provide new guidance and best practices to members of the medical community, reauthorize prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP) critical to local law enforcement efforts, increase access to life-saving Naloxone and raise public, provider, and patient awareness of opioid drugs. It is the companion bill to legislation introduced by Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) in April of this year. Representatives Luke Messer (R-IN6), Jackie Walorski (R-IN2), Ed Whitfield (KY-1) and Andre Carson (D-IN7) are original cosponsors of the bill.
“We lose 45 Americans every day to prescription drug abuse while the number of heroin related deaths in the United States has continued to increase dramatically,” Brooks said. “These problems are directly linked, have no geographic or socio-economic boundaries and require our urgent attention. We must ensure prescribing physicians, pharmacists, first responders, law enforcement officials and so many others on the frontlines of this battle have the guidance and support they need. That’s why I’m particularly pleased this legislation will increase the availability of Naloxone, provide critical support for prescription drug monitoring programs and establish a best practices taskforce on proper pain management prescribing practices. I am thankful to Representative Kennedy for his contributions to this effort and I look forward to working with my fellow Hoosier Senator Donnelly and Senator Ayotte as they supply critical leadership to this important cause.”
“Heartbreaking stories of loved ones lost to substance abuse and addiction have become far too common for families in every corner of our country,” Kennedy said. “Whether by strengthening prescription monitoring, reauthorizing the Byrne JAG program or increasing access to Naloxone, we must use every tool at our disposal to combat this epidemic. I thank Congresswoman Brooks for her leadership and look forward to working with her on these issues.”
Highlights of The Heroin and Prescription Opioid Abuse Prevention, Education, and Enforcement Act of 2015:
-Establishes an inter-agency taskforce to develop best practices for pain management and prescription pain medication prescribing practices. The taskforce will be composed of representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Veteran Affairs, Department of Defense, Drug Enforcement Administration and Office of National Drug Control Policy. It will be required to report its progress to Congress no later than 270 days after its formation.
-Reauthorizes the National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting (NASPER) Reauthorization Act. The bill contains the text of Representative Whitfield (R-KY1) and Kennedy’s reauthorization bill (H.R. 1725) which provides grants to states for the establishment, implementation, and improvement of PDMPs that providers can access for the early identification of patients at risk for addiction in order to initiate appropriate interventions.
-Creates a Naloxone Demonstration Grant Program increasing the preparedness of local first responders to administer Naloxone to overdose patients. The World Health Organization estimates that 20,000 deaths may be preventable in the U.S. every year through wider dissemination of Naloxone.
-Directs the Office of National Drug Control Policy to establish a national drug awareness campaign that focuses attention on the link between prescription drug abuse and heroin use.
-Reauthorizes the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Program, which funds law enforcement programs, prosecution and court programs, prevention programs, drug treatment programs and technology improvement programs.