Markey Calls for Expanding Availability of Treatment to Help First Responders Prevent Opiate Use and Abuse
Massachusetts communities report reversing 2,300 overdoses since 2007 with aid of naloxone drug
Washington (February 11, 2014) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) urging it to expand treatment programs in Massachusetts and across the nation that help first responders prevent overdoses from prescription painkillers and other opiates. Earlier today the Obama administration called for equipping first responders with the drug naloxone to treat potential overdose victims. Naloxone, a drug that blocks the effects of opiates found in painkillers and heroin, is available to bystanders and first responders in more than 15 cities throughout the Commonwealth and has already been credited with 2,300 reported overdose reversals, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
“Prescription drug and heroin abuse is plaguing our communities, and our first responders need treatments like naloxone to combat this epidemic,” said Senator Markey. “Communities in Massachusetts such as Boston, Quincy, Weymouth and Revere are models for the effective use of naloxone and its ability to prevent opiate overdoses. I applaud Mayor Walsh for his commitment to equipping the Boston fire and police departments with this critical tool, and all the Massachusetts mayors working to protect their communities from substance abuse. Our police, sheriffs and fire departments are on the frontlines of this battle to save our families and take back our streets from the scourge of painkiller addiction, and I will fight to ensure they have the resources and funding to prevent these deadly overdoses.”
A copy of Senator Markey’s letter to HHS can be found HERE.
A copy of HHS's response to Senator Markey can be found HERE.
In the House of Representatives in 2011, then-Rep. Markey introduced the bipartisan Pill Mill Act, which would have placed tighter restrictions on prescription painkillers and provided law enforcement the resources they need to identify and stop illegal drug activities.