WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) led a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations that included witness testimony about the growing problem of prescription drug and heroin abuse. It was a follow-up to last year's hearing that included a federal panel from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (CDC), the Office of Diversion Control (DEA), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), and the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This year's panel included witnesses from across the country who shared their experiences and discussed efforts to confront the growing cycle of prescription drug and heroin abuse.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdose is now the leading cause of injury death in the United States and has a growing presence in communities all across the country.
“The scourge of prescription drug and opioid abuse has blazed a destructive trail of tragedy and sorrow across the United States. Lives are lost, families are left in turmoil, and communities feel helpless to respond. Compounding the problem is that 40% of drug abusers have an underlying mental illness,” said Chairman Murphy. “The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will continue examining solutions at next week’s hearing with experts from across the country who are confronting these challenges head on and can share their experiences on what steps we can take to restore communities and save lives.”
“Something is desperately wrong with our nation’s response to the opioid epidemic, and it is quite literally a matter of life and death that we get honest answers and not remain misguided in our approach to how we solve this crisis,” Murphy said.
“The state and local perspective of this growing threat is essential as we evaluate what steps we can take at the federal level to help address this crisis,” Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) added.
President and CEO of Project Lazarus
“There is not one treatment that works for all, but there are sufficient treatments that work for all and they should be widely available, effectively covered with providers accepting reimbursement. Unfortunately, access to treatment is limited by a few main factors:
• Acceptability, Availability and Accessibility of treatment options.
• Negative attitudes or stigma associated with addiction in general and drug treatment.
• Limited providers and limits on providers.”
Dr. Sarah T. Melton, PharmD, BCPP, BCACP, CGP, FASCP
Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice
Gatton College of Pharmacy at East Tennessee State University Johnson City, TN
Chair of OneCare of Southwest Virginia
“Those of us who work in addiction medicine and mental health will continue to work with our local, State, and Federal partners to continue to prevent and reduce the devastating consequences of prescription drug and heroin abuse. There is tremendous work being done on the local and state levels that is clearly making a difference, but we have a tremendous amount of hard work in front of us to end this epidemic.”
Chief Operating Officer of Hope Academy
“The abuse of opiates continues to rise in Central Indiana. According to the Indiana University Center for Health Policy, the number of adolescents receiving treatment for opiate dependence has risen 9% over the last five years….One of the most staggering statistics is that the number of deaths related to overdose from opiates has quadrupled since 1999.”
Corporal Michael Griffin
Narcotics Unit Supervisor of the Tulsa Police Department
“The Tulsa Police Department recommends a continuation of the comprehensive approach to drug trafficking currently in place, which relies on coordination among law-enforcement agencies, community-oriented policing, intelligence and information sharing, improved technology, as well as additional federal efforts made to prevent drugs of all kinds from finding their way into communities across the United States.”
Prosecutor for Cass County Michigan
President of the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan
“The problem of drug abuse will always be with us. Heroin and prescription drugs are the latest concern, following the epidemics of marijuana, powder cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine and others. The key is to minimize use and its impact.”
Dr. Stefan R Maxwell
Chair of West Virginia Perinatal Partnership
“The Partnership seeks to utilize the Drug Free Moms and Babies model for a Pay for Success (PfS) initiative. Under a PfS model, an investor finances the implementation of a “proven” or evidence-based social intervention program that is expected to improve social welfare and save government money in excess of the program implementation costs. The Partnership along with others in [West Virginia continue to work on addressing barriers to care, including transportation, child care, judgmental attitudes, and lack of providers.”
Dr. Caleb Banta-Green
Senior Research Scientist at the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute
University of Washington
“Given that the majority of young adult heroin users now report they were first hooked on pharmaceutical opioids it is clear that addressing inappropriate initiation is essential. The decision to begin prescribing opioids for minor injuries and pain needs to be carefully considered as does the total quantity dispensed if they are prescribed. Opioids in the home need to be carefully monitored and immediately disposed of when no longer needed. Parents need to know how to talk with their kids about medication safety as well as how to manage stress and pain without medications, drugs or alcohol.”