Declaration should include new resources and focus on public health interventions, recommended by White House Opioid Commission


Washington (August 3, 2017) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) is calling on President Donald Trump to declare a national public health emergency in response to the nation’s opioid epidemic, as recommended by the White House Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. In doing so, Senator Markey urges the President to follow a public health response strategy that compliments and coordinates existing efforts and dedicates new resources, rather than tapping into existing funds used to support state and local efforts. Senator Markey stressed the importance of providing the prevention, treatment, and recovery resources needed to help end our nation’s unprecedented opioid crisis and to coordinate a response using a public health framework, not one focused solely on law enforcement measures.


“The continued plague of overdose deaths across this nation, demands a swift, robust and coordinated public health response,” writes Senator Markey. “A public health emergency declaration would be a monumental step toward acknowledging the graveness of this issue and the importance of taking an all hands on approach to addressing this crisis.”


A copy of Senator Markey’s letter can be found HERE


The White House Commission also made several other recommendations in their interim report that closely mirror legislation introduced by Senator Markey. For example, 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. 


“I stand ready to work with you to further these initiatives.” continues Senator Markey in his letter to President Trump. “You have a duty to the American public to turn this White House commission into a White House commitment – a commitment to action, to funding, and to solutions. The country can afford no more delays.”