Washington (April 21, 2022) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) released the following statement today in response to release of the Biden administration’s first National Drug Control Strategy.
“For too long racism and stigma have driven the federal government to respond to substance use and addiction with the failed tactics of the ‘War on Drugs.’ I am pleased that the Biden administration is focused on tackling the addiction and overdose crisis with policies that seek to heal, not incarcerate and ostracize, those with substance-use disorder,” said Senator Markey. “Today the Administration has demonstrated a commitment to pursuing policies driven by evidence-based care and taking a public health approach to the overdose crisis. I am heartened that treatment and harm reduction – including syringe service programs and naloxone distribution – are a centerpiece of the Administration’s strategy, because it is proven to save lives, reduce the spread of infectious diseases, and help individuals with substance-use disorder get on the path to recovery. Importantly, the National Drug Control Strategy also echoes the report of the bipartisan Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking, on which I served, recognizing the need stop the flow of synthetic opioids into the United States through increased international cooperation and disruption of transnational criminal organizations.
“In the Senate, I will continue to push for passage of my Opioid Treatment Access Act, which would reduce barriers to accessing methadone, including by allowing pharmacy dispensing of this essential drug, as this strategy supports. I will also advocate for my STOP Fentanyl Act to direct more federal funding to support harm reduction efforts in areas hit hard by the opioid crisis, while working to reduce barriers to harm reduction services,” continued Senator Markey. “While the strategy released today reflects significant progress in our nation’s approach to treating this epidemic, I will continue to advocate for other important public health strategies such as creating access to naloxone without a prescription and enabling localities to implement safe consumption facilities. I look forward to partnering with the Administration to expand and improve access to treatment and harm reduction across the county.”
In February, Senators Markey and Dr. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced the Opioid Treatment Access Act to expand access to methadone for treatment in substance-use disorder, including allowing pharmacies to dispense methadone for opioid treatment and permitting patients to access take-home doses earlier in their treatment. Senator Markey also introduced the Support, Treatment, and Overdose Prevention (STOP) of Fentanyl Act in April 2021 alongside Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) aimed at bolstering the public health response to deadly illicit fentanyl and other synthetic opioids by expanding access to substance-use treatment, enhancing overdose prevention, and improving public health surveillance, monitoring, and education. Representatives Annie Kuster (D-N.H.) and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) introduced companion legislation in the House.