Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks

Representing the 5th District of Indiana
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Brooks, Engel, Barton, DeGette Introduce Bipartisan Poison Control Bill to Combat the Opioid Epidemic

Mar 22, 2018
News Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – The opioid epidemic continues to sweep the nation. In order to effectively combat this complex crisis, it is important to work together. Poison control centers are an important part of the solution and are already on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic.

This week, Representatives from the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health Susan W. Brooks (R-IN), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Joe Barton (R-TX) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) introduced a bipartisan bill, which reauthorizes funding for the poison control center’s toll-free number. H.R. 5329, the Poison Center Network Enhancement Act of 2018, clarifies that poison control centers can be called upon to assist with public health emergencies, responses, and preparedness; requests that enhanced communications capabilities like texting be established; requests the FCC work with HHS to ensure calls to our 1-800 number are properly routed; and directs HHS to implement call routing based on the caller’s actual location to ensure timely responses. Today, #SubHealth concluded a two-day hearing focused on combating the opioid crisis with prevention and public health solutions, which included review of H.R. 5329.

“In one month alone, there were 9,039 opioid exposures reported to poison control centers nationwide,” said Brooks. “Since 2011, poison control centers have been working behind the scenes to fight against the opioid epidemic and have handled about 500,000 cases of opioid misuse and abuse – that’s approximately 192 cases per day, every day. Poison control centers save countless lives, prevent toxic exposure and poisoning injury, and reduce billions of dollars in unnecessary healthcare costs. The data poison centers collect can even be used to identify hotspots for opioid misuse and overdose. I am proud to introduce a bill with my colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee that will help those who find themselves in an emergency situation by enhancing the centers within the National Poison Data System that offer free, confidential, expert medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

 “Speedy access to poison centers through the national toll-free number – (800) 222-1222 – is an essential resource for all Americans, especially parents, who can take solace in the fact that there are 55 poison centers across the United States available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” said Engel. “Poison centers offer real-time, lifesaving assistance, while at the same time saving hundreds of millions in federal dollars. On top of that, these centers are playing a key role in the fight to end the opioid epidemic. I was proud to co-author the last poison center reauthorization in 2014, and I am proud to be a part of this bipartisan legislation.”

“Every year, the poison control center provides a free service that saves lives, prevents unnecessary hospital visits, and reduces healthcare costs in our country by more than $1.8 billion annually,” said Barton. “Poison control centers are already on the frontline combatting the opioid crisis by assisting first responders and hospital personnel recognize and detect drug abuse. Additionally, they provide real time data on opioid misuse to federal agencies. I look forward to working with my colleagues, Representatives Susan Brooks, Eliot Engel, and Diana DeGette on quickly reauthorizing the poison control center program so that they can continue doing their important work.”

“Poison control centers are at the forefront of fighting the opioid epidemic since they are often the first place people call in case of an overdose,” said DeGette. “It makes sense to give them more and better resources to do their vital work, including raising public awareness and improving communications. I’m convinced that this bipartisan bill will save lives.”