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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

HELP Committee Members Urge Continued Efforts to Curb Prescription Drug Abuse

December 31, 2014 | Opioid and Heroin Epidemic | Comments
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Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) led HELP committee senators in sending letters to national, state and local leaders calling for continued commitment to curbing the prescription drug abuse crisis. The letters highlighted the committee’s key priorities to combat this problem and asked for recipients to keep the HELP Committee informed of ongoing efforts to solve this growing epidemic.

“Prescription drug abuse is a public health crisis that has increased dramatically in scope during recent years,” the senators wrote. “With our shared goal of preventing and reducing prescription drug abuse in this country – a crisis that demands continued action, we expect that your activities in this area will continue, and we stand ready to assist you. We request that you provide updates to us early next year about your ongoing work, as we continue to explore potential solutions to this problem.”

In April, the HELP Committee established the Prescription Drug Abuse Working Group. The group – comprised of state and local entities, private coalitions, and federal officials – was established to examine the characteristics and challenges of prescription drug abuse; understand what government agencies, as well as public health groups and health providers are doing to address it; and consider ways to further combat the issue. The working group has continued its efforts to explore new and innovative solutions that can be used to solve the problem.

Recipients of the letter included the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; the National Governors Association; the American Medical Association; the Association of American Medical Colleges; the National Association of County and City Health Officials; and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

In addition to Sens. Harkin and Alexander, the letters were signed by HELP Committee Members Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Richard Burr (R-NC), Patty Murray (D-WA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Bob Casey (D-PA), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Al Franken (D-MN), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).