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Pallone Unveils Comprehensive Legislation to Address Substance Abuse Crisis

Jan 21, 2016
Press Release
Bill Commits $500 Million Annually to Help Patients in All Stages of Prescription Opioid & Heroin Dependence

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Today, Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) unveiled comprehensive legislation to address the substance abuse crisis plaguing far too many communities in New Jersey and across the country.  Pallone discussed his bill, the Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Reduction Act, which will commit $500 million annually to help individuals at all stages of crisis, specifically those suffering from prescription opioid and heroin dependence. 

“This epidemic affects families from all walks of life and unfortunately, has become personal for too many families that have been impacted by addiction or lost loved ones to an overdose,” said Pallone.  “My comprehensive bill will tackle the substance abuse crisis we are now facing by providing significant funding for critical treatment and recovery programs.  New resources will help to reach those who have fallen through the cracks before it is too late and also provide support to those on a path to recovery.”

The Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Reduction Act has four core elements:

1) Preventing the onset of substance abuse,

2) Responding to those already in crisis,

3) Ensuring access to treatment for all patients, and

4) Supporting life-long recovery from addiction

The legislation sets guidelines requiring those prescribing opioids to undergo critical training; helps to improve a provider’s ability to diagnose addiction; provides funding for state and local governments and community organizations to train first responders, physicians, pharmacists, and the public to respond quickly and effectively to prevent overdoses; and makes naloxone, a safe and effective antidote to overdoses, more affordable.

Pallone noted that the bill also expands evidence-based treatment, including access to medication-assisted treatment; funds syringe exchange programs that often offer a path to treatment and decrease the spread of infectious disease; provides critical resources to communities that recognize a new heroin or opioid outbreak in order to combat addiction swiftly; and creates a new grant program to fund the work done by recovery schools and collegiate recovery programs.

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) developed voluntary prescribing guidelines for the use of opioids in treating chronic non-cancer pain.  Today, Pallone also sent a letter to the CDC expressing his support for their efforts to address overprescribing and encouraging the agency to issue final guidelines quickly to prevent even more potentially lethal overdoses.  

A factsheet on the legislation is available here. A section-by-section breakdown of the bill is available here.