WASHINGTON, D.C. – Prescription drug abuse continues to be a serious issue for families and communities across our nation. As part of their efforts to fight this alarming epidemic, Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08) and Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) announced today the re-launch of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse. The Caucus seeks to raise awareness of abuse and to work toward innovative and effective policy solutions that incorporate treatment, prevention, education, law enforcement, and research.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths from drug overdose have become the leading cause of injury death in the United States and in 2013, more than 51% of drug overdose deaths in the United States were related to pharmaceuticals. In recent years, the number of deaths and emergency department visits related to prescription drug abuse has risen significantly. The Caucus is committed to addressing the staggering impact prescription drug abuse has on local communities.
“Prescription drug abuse takes an exacting toll on individuals, families and communities. Addiction does not discriminate. It affects individuals regardless of age, gender, race, and socioeconomic status,” said Lynch. “Every day in the 8th District and across our nation, we are faced with troubling stories of the debilitating effects that the vicious cycle of prescription drug abuse has on our friends, neighbors, and family members. Working alongside my friend, Congressman Rogers, I am confident that the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse can bring legislators together to address the significant challenge of prescription drug abuse.”
“The epidemic of prescription drug abuse hit Appalachian communities over a decade ago, and we’ve rallied our local communities to join collectively against the devastation wrought by abuse and addiction,” stated Rogers, who co-founded the Rx Caucus in 2010. “As we have demonstrated in my region of Kentucky, the response to this unique drug challenge needs to be multi-faceted with law enforcement, treatment professionals, educational leaders and the scientific community all sitting at the same table and playing a major role. That is why I am proud to join Congressman Lynch in re-launching this important caucus: to help our colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives coordinate and collaborate on meaningful federal policies to end this scourge for good.”
In the 113th Congress, nearly three dozen members of the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse worked on a bipartisan basis to raise awareness of the problem nationwide and to collaborate on effective policy solutions. Members worked to secure federal funding for drug courts and prevention and treatment initiatives. They also introduced legislation to stop crushable generic pain pills from flooding the streets and engaged with high-ranking officials in the Administration on the prescription drug epidemic through letters, hearings, and briefings.
In April of 2014, Lynch and Rogers, co-chairs of the Caucus, participated in a bipartisan Congressional Panel at the National Rx Drug Abuse Summit in Atlanta, Georgia. The annual Summit brings together local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, government officials, medical personnel, pharmacists, and advocates to discuss impactful solutions to address the public health crisis of prescription drug abuse. Last year, Lynch and Rogers highlighted their efforts to ban the opioid narcotic painkiller Zohydro ER until the drug was available in an abuse deterrent form.