Members Review State Level Responses to the Epidemic
WASHINGTON, DC – The Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), today continued its review of the ongoing prescription drug and opioid abuse epidemic with a look at what is being done at the state level to combat these crises.
“The size of this problem and the need for a new paradigm of treatment can’t be understated. And the process of developing legislative solutions has already started,” said Murphy. “Today we heard from the states about best practice models, problems they have encountered, and how states have addressed these problems. We also received honest input and ideas about where there are problems and successes with any federal policies.”
“We know that more than 70% of those who abuse prescription drugs obtain them from the unused supplies of friends or family, highlighting the importance of supporting robust medication collection and disposal resources throughout the state,” explained Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Executive Director and Chief Medical Officer Larry Wolk, M.D., MSPH. Wolk, like the other witnesses, explained how important education and collaborative work is to fighting this crisis.
“We must take greater advantage of the evidence-based treatments that we have at our disposal for opioid addiction,” added Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, M.D., M.P.H. “However, as our national data demonstrates, more than 80% of these lethal pain killers came from non-clinicians – in fact nearly 70% from family and friends. And so again, this story highlights an elemental truth: we will fail in our efforts to address this crisis if we do not fully involve all partners from all sectors – family and community of all ages and walks, law enforcement, public health, healthcare, schools, and you, our elected leaders.”
“If we focus on education, patient centered care, and community and patient empowerment, I am confident we can successfully combat the problem of opioid abuse,” added Indiana Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H., who explained that in addition to opioid abuse, Indiana is also working more broadly to combat “rampant substance use disorder (SUD).”
In addition to treating those already afflicted with opioid addictions, Missouri’s Department of Mental Health Division of Behavioral Health Director Mark Stringer spoke to the importance in working to prevent these issues before they begin. He singled out a coalition of 21 colleges in Missouri working together to “promote health and safety for students.” Stringer explained, “One impressive aspect of the initiative is the array of stakeholders involved: campus prevention professionals, University administration officials, police and public safety officers, student volunteers, community business owners, and others.”
Today’s hearing continued the subcommittee’s review of this epidemic, previously focusing on, state and local perspectives, professional and academic perspectives, and the federal government’s response.