Recommendations on mandatory prescriber education, and detecting and interdicting fentanyl and other illicit synthetic opioids mirror legislation introduced by Senator Markey


Washington (July 31, 2017) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) released the following statement today after the White House opioid commission released its delayed interim report, recommending that President Donald Trump declare a federal state of emergency to address the opioid epidemic. In the report, the commission recommends President Trump instruct the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to require medical education for every prescriber requesting an initial DEA license or the renewal of such a license, mirroring legislation Senator Markey first introduced in 2014. Additionally, the report also recommends key federal agencies increase detection efforts using enhanced technology and more manpower, the primary goals of Senator Markey’s INTERDICT Act, bipartisan legislation introduced in March.


“Massachusetts declared a state of emergency for the opioid crisis in 2014, and it is past time we recognize this public health scourge at the national level,” said Senator Markey. “If people across the country were dying from overdoses at the same rate as in Massachusetts, 100,000 people would die in a year. We must turn these recommendations into immediate action, showing serious and ongoing commitment to the impacts the opioid crisis is having on every community in the country.


“Preventing opioid addiction begins with the prescribers, and ensuring all are educated in safe prescribing practices and the identification of possible substance use disorders will be key to ensuring addiction does not take hold for millions of Americans,” continued Senator Markey. “Additionally, if we can put the scanning technology to help save lives in the palm of a hand, then we should immediately arm our border agents with the devices that can help stop illicit fentanyl from crossing our borders. I look forward to working with my colleagues on a bipartisan basis to pass legislation that we all can agree will be critical to combatting the opioid epidemic.”


Earlier this month, Senator Markey reintroduced the Safe Prescribing of Controlled Substances Act (S.1554) with Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), which requires that all prescribers that are applying for a federal license with the DEA to prescribe controlled substances, such as prescription painkillers, complete mandatory education that will help encourage responsible prescribing practices.


Also, in March, Senators Markey was joined by Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) in introducing the INTERDICT Act (S.708), legislation that would provide U.S. Customs and Border Protection tools such as hi-tech chemical screening devices to help detect and interdict fentanyl and other illicit synthetic opioids. Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (MA-03) has introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.