Offers amendment to Senate budget on opiate overdose prevention and treatment

Washington (March 26, 2015) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today praised new steps to be taken by the Obama administration to address the prescription drug and heroin crisis. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it will focus on three areas: providing education and resources to reduce inappropriate prescribing of opioid painkillers, increasing the use of naloxone to reduce overdoses, and expanding availability of coordinated medication-assisted treatment and recovery services to reduce opioid use disorders and overdoses. Last year, Senator Markey released a comprehensive plan to address the opiates crisis and called on HHS to take these actions as part of a comprehensive solution that addresses addiction from prevention, through treatment and enforcement. 

“There are daily tragedies of addiction playing out on sidewalks, in cars in deserted parking lots, in emergency rooms, and silently in homes across Massachusetts and the country,” said Senator Markey. “Everyone suffering from prescription drug or heroin addiction needs hope, support and a plan to achieve recovery, and our country needs a comprehensive strategy to combat this deadly epidemic. I commend our nation’s top public health agency for prioritizing this issue and committing to taking these important first steps to address the urgency of this crisis, but much more needs to be done. We need a comprehensive solution that brings together, science, medicine, public health and law enforcement on the federal, state and local levels to stop addiction before it takes hold and secure treatment when its needed most. The budget amendment I am offering today is just one way in which I will continue to fight for the resources necessary to combat this scourge.”

Earlier this month, Senators Markey, Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) introduced the Opioid Overdose Reduction Act to protect first responders, health professionals and family members who are educated in administering an opioid overdose prevention drug, such as naloxone (also known as Narcan) in an emergency situation of overdose. In February, Senator Markey joined his colleagues in reintroducing bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the National All-Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting (NASPER) program, which provides grants to states to maintain, improve, and expand their prescription drug monitoring programs. In 2014, Senator Markey convened roundtables in BostonTaunton and Holyoke, Massachusetts to develop this comprehensive strategy to address the opiate addiction and overdose epidemic.