Markey today called on FDA to engage stakeholders, develop and approve new therapies to reduce drug use and harms



Boston (March 7, 2014) – Senate Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Congressman Richard E. Neal (D-Springfield) today joined Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Regional Administrator Kathryn Power, Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse and other state and local leaders at the Holyoke Health Center to discuss the crisis of heroin and prescription drug overdoses in Western Massachusetts.  Senator Markey discussed his three-pronged plan to address the opiate drug epidemic, calling for expansion of naloxone programs for first responders and bystanders, greater access to proven addiction treatments and modernizing America’s addiction treatment system. 


As part of his push reduce barriers to the approval of new drugs for addiction, today, Senator Markey sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calling on it to engage researchers, addiction treatment leaders, and drug developers to develop and approve new therapies that will reduce drug use, as well as reduce the harms associated with it. Yesterday, Senator Markey introduced S. 2092, The Opioid Overdose Reduction Act, legislation that would protect individuals who administer lifesaving opioid overdose prevention drugs.


A link to Senator Markey’s letter to the FDA can be found HERE


“It is our moral responsibility to respond immediately to the epidemic of heroin and prescription drug overdoses plaguing our communities, our Commonwealth and our entire country,” said Senator Markey. “We need to bring together science, medicine, and public health to address this crisis. We also need the FDA to take a fresh look at how it is working to develop and approve new therapies that will reduce drug use and the tragic harms that result.” 


“The scourge of heroin and prescription drug abuse in our region has reached epidemic proportions,” said Rep. Neal. “People addicted to prescription drugs are switching to heroin because of the cheaper cost. And each day brings news of another overdose in cities and towns all across New England. We need to have a comprehensive strategy to deal with this growing problem, and today's meeting was important step in that process.” 


“Heroin and prescription drug addiction are plaguing our neighborhoods and streets, and we need to support from all those who have a stake in safe and healthy families,” said Mayor Morse. “I thank Senator Markey and Rep. Neal for coming to Holyoke to show their commitment to addressing this crisis as a public health issue. I look forward to working with them so that we can interrupt this terrible cycle of addiction.” 


Senator Markey and Rep. Neal were joined today in Holyoke by Mass. Bureau of Substance Abuse Services Deputy Director Lydie Ultimo, State Senator Ben Downing, State Senator Gale Candaras, State Representative Brian Ashe, State Representative Ben Swan, Hampden District Attorney Mark Mastroianni, Hampden Sheriff Mike Ashe, Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan, Berkshire Sheriff Tom Bowler, Hampshire Sheriff Bob Garvey, Easthampton Mayor Karen Cadieux, Greenfield Mayor Bill Martin, and Learn2Cope Holyoke Chapter Director Marcy Julian.