Issue in Focus

Combating the Opioid Crisis


 

Energy and Commerce has been at the tip of the spear in the national fight to combat the opioid crisis. From the earliest days of our investigations in 2012 to present day, we remain committed to learning more about how and why it happened, and what legislative solutions can be pursued.

Chairman Walden’s op-ed in Morning Consult, announcing a #FullCmte hearing the week of October 23, 2017

The effects are disastrous and heartbreaking. The reach is from coast to coast. The opioid crisis has truly reached epidemic proportions, fueled by dangerous new chemical versions and illicitly manufactured synthetic drugs. Scan the headlines on any given day and you’ll hear about a life gone too soon to addiction or about a raid that seized obscene quantities of prescription painkillers or illicit drugs.

It is killing our friends, family members and neighbors in communities across the country.

Read more.

We owe it to the 91 Americans who die every day from an opioid overdose and their loved ones to press on in our fight against the crisis gripping our nation.  And that’s just what our committee intends to do. – Chairman Greg Walden

Member Day

More than 50 members testified before #SubHealth on Wednesday, October 11, 2017, for Member Day, an opportunity for members both on and off the committee to share personal and local stories, statistics, and potential solutions to combat the opioid crisis. For a recap of the day’s 12 panels or to watch archived testimony, click here.

Resources

General Opioid Graphics

State by State Graphics

Current Investigations

In addition to earlier investigations, our Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee launched a series of investigations into the opioid epidemic in 2017. Those investigations include: fentanyl, a synthetic opioid; alleged pill dumping; and patient brokering. In addition, the subcommittee has also reviewed various state level responses to the epidemic.

On September 13, 2017, Hearst Television aired a live primetime one-hour special across its station group to address America’s opioid epidemic.  The special included a segment with Chairman Walden, who highlighted the committee’s ongoing investigations related to the opioid crisis.

Click the image to view the entire special.  Chairman Walden appears at 49:13.

Alleged Pill Dumping

Patient Brokering

  • Bipartisan committee leaders sent a letter to HHS in July regarding reports of “patient brokers” who are serving as intermediaries and profiting from the recruitment of patients seeking treatment for addiction.
  • The letter cited news reports about such facilities, which said that brokers can be paid anywhere from $500 to $5,000 for each patient who they get to enter into a treatment center. These reports also touted free services to lure vulnerable patients looking for help, including free rent, cigarettes, and manicures.

Fentanyl

  • A synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine, it is the leading cause of opioid overdose deaths.
  • It is easy and very cheap to illicitly manufacture and has been appearing in communities across the country, mostly coming from China and clandestine labs in Mexico.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) and the 21st Century Cures Act

Last Congress, E&C led two major initiatives being signed into law that provide critical resources for combating the crisis.

 

Combating the Opioid Crisis Repository