Fill me in: This week and next, the House is voting on several dozen bills intended to combat the opioid crisis. The bills include proposals to further educate pharmacists, coordinate a national response effort, and accelerate research on new non-addictive pain medications. Most of the proposals have garnered bipartisan support, and many stem from a series of hearings held by the House Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, and Judiciary Committees.
Why does it matter? Opioid abuse and addiction to illegal opioids like heroin and fentanyl has become a nation-wide epidemic, taking a tremendous toll on human lives, the labor participation rate, businesses, and economic growth. More than 300,000 Americans have died from opioid overdoses since 2000.
Number to know: 116. That’s the number of Americans on average who die every day from opioid-related overdoses, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Our take: “Opioid abuse continues to devastate families, communities, and our country. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is committed to doing its part to help identify and advance solutions to address this epidemic. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, a multipronged legislative solution is a critical first step, and we applaud the bipartisan and thoughtful efforts to advance legislation to combat this crisis.” – Katie Mahoney, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Vice President, Health Policy
What’s next? The House is expected to combine most of the bills into a single package before sending it over to the Senate for consideration in the coming weeks, according to reports. A best case scenario would be a comprehensive legislative package that supports community-led private-public partnerships to combat addiction, increases the availability of treatment options for those addicted, and prevents drug tampering and diversion, among other priority measures.
Related: America’s Opioid Crisis: Our Commitment to Real Solutions