Washington (May 23, 2018) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) today introduced legislation to create a national roadmap for ending the opioid epidemic, which claimed more than 42,000 lives in 2016 alone. Their legislation, the National Milestones to Measure Progress in Ending the Opioid Epidemic Act, would require the federal government to set tangible benchmarks for how it is addressing the opioid crisis in and by measuring progress on key objectives each year. These objectives include reducing overdose deaths, expanding treatment availability, increasing the number of individuals in sustained recovery, and decreasing emergency room visits for overdoses.


“When people are sick, they get a treatment plan. The United States needs a nationwide treatment plan for fighting the opioid crisis,” said Senator Markey. “We need to know whether our policies and resources are being used in ways that have a measurable impact on the public’s health. If we don’t have a dashboard to clearly and quantifiably show our progress on this epidemic, we will continue to fight the same battle over and over again. The Opioid Milestones Act will provide national benchmarks for ensuring that our federal and state resources pay lifesaving dividends. I thank Senators Murkowski and Hassan for their partnership in this effort.”   


“So many of us agree that it’s imperative we address the opioid crisis that’s destroying communities in every corner of the nation,” said Senator Murkowski. “But if we are ever going to truly curb this epidemic, it’s equally important that we don’t just throw money at the problem, and instead, take a calculated approach to determine what measures are actually working. I’m proud to introduce this bill which will create national milestones, metrics to accurately measure progress in combatting opioid abuse. By developing an understanding of what programs work, how well they work, and if taxpayer dollars are being well-spent, I’m hopeful we will reach the greatest milestone of all -- putting a stop to this nationwide devastation.”


“As we continue working to implement a comprehensive strategy to combat the devastating fentanyl, heroin, and opioid epidemic that’s ravaging communities in New Hampshire and across the country, it’s critical that we have the tools to better measure progress so that we can determine what is most effective in supporting those struggling with addiction,” said Senator Hassan. “This bipartisan bill establishes a set of measurable goals for the federal government’s response to the opioid epidemic and requires regular reporting on their progress. While we know that there is much more work to do to truly stem – and ultimately reverse – the tide of this horrible crisis, this bill is an important step forward in helping to strengthen accountability and ensure that we’re on the right track.”


A copy of the Opioid Milestones Act can be found HERE.


Similar national roadmaps have been put forth to help show progress in addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic through the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, and for Alzheimer’s disease through the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, required under the National Alzheimer’s Project Act. While multiple commissions, expert groups, and government entities have put forward recommendations to help respond to nation’s opioid crisis, this and all future administrations must be accountable for acting upon these recommendations and ensuring they work effectively to reduce the burden of this public health crisis and help save lives.