Senator has introduced legislation to expand treatment for addiction, give first responders overdose prevention tools to save lives


WASHINGTON (October 3, 2014) – Responding to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that says heroin overdose fatalities doubled in 28 states from 2010 to 2012, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today called for national action to stop the scourge of heroin and other opioid addictions and overdoses by passing his legislation that would expand treatment and give first responders better access to anti-overdose tools. Massachusetts was included as one of the 28 states surveyed in the report.


“Our friends, family, and fellow Americans are dying at alarming rates, and we have a moral duty to help those people trapped in the clutches of addiction and risking death on a daily basis. This report by the CDC should spur our country to act immediately, before we lose more lives,” said Senator Markey. “In the northeast this epidemic has been especially troubling as deaths from heroin increased three-fold between 2010 and 2012. We know that four out of five heroin users started by abusing prescription drugs. We need to prevent opioid addiction before it takes hold and ensure that those that are battling a substance use disorder are given the treatment and tools they need to achieve recovery.”


This year, Senator Markey convened roundtables in Boston, Taunton, and Holyoke, Massachusetts, where he outlined a three-pronged plan to address the opiate epidemic, including greater access to proven addiction treatments. 


In March, Senator Markey introduced S. 2092, The Opioid Overdose Reduction Act, legislation that would protect individuals who administer opioid overdose prevention drugs, such as naloxone, from civil liability. The bill also ensures that health care professionals who prescribe an opioid overdose drug to a person at risk of overdose or a third party, such as a family member of an abuser, are not liable for civil suits.


In July, Senator Markey introduced the Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment Act (S. 2645, TREAT Act). That legislation would help increase the number of patients who have access life-saving medication-assisted therapies by increasing the number of patients doctors can prescribe treatment for, and for the first time, allow qualified nurse practitioners and physician assistants to provide access to medication-assisted treatments for patients battling opioid addiction. 


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