The United States House of Representatives passed a massive package of legislation seeking to curb the opioid epidemic plaguing American families today, with a swell of bipartisan support that shows both Democrats and Republicans can agree on at least some pressing issues.
As reported by the Washington Times, the main objectives of the bill target the expansion of treatment options for opioid addiction, the reduction of narcotic pills in circulation legally and illegally, and increased efforts put forth to curb the flow of fentanyl into the country through an often porous southern border shared with Mexico. According to the San Diego Tribune, fully 80 percent of the fentanyl sold illegally in the United States flows through a drug pipeline through Mexico.
Comprised of 58 individually House-approved bills, NBC states that the opioid legislative package is the largest legislative effort in recent memory tabled by the house in the fight against addiction. One of the provisions included in the package dictates a change to the way that prescription pills are distributed in an effort to curb improper delivery of painkillers and off-label usage. Another makes demands of the National Institutes of Health to work towards the development of nonaddictive painkillers.
Perhaps the most controversial part of the parcel put forward by one half of Congress comes in the form of Jessie’s Law, so-named after Jessie Grubb, a 30-year old patient who died from an opioid overdose from pills prescribed by her doctor following a hip surgery. The doctor, unaware that Grubb had faced a seven-year battle with addiction to opioids, prescribed painkillers to her following the procedure. Jessie’s Law, if passed, would require that medical records list a patient’s addiction history. Privacy advocates in opposition to the law offer the reasoning that such a law could actually prevent individuals suffering from addictions from coming forward, fearing retribution from law enforcement agencies.
Prefacing the passage of the legislative package today, The Hill reports that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy rose to speak, urging his colleagues to support the effort inasmuch as the crisis was prevalent and pertinent to all Americans:
“Let that be a lesson to us all: There is no event so joyful, no place so safe, that it is untouched by the drug crisis,” McCarthy said, orating from the floor.
“Even a wedding chapel. Even here, in the halls of power… Even in my office… Mr. Speaker, if we hope to defeat the deadliest drug crisis in history we will need the biggest response in history.”
The sweeping opioid package was passed by a super-majority vote, the result coming in at 396-14. The Senate will now be presented with the barrage of bills for assent before they move to the desk of the President for his official signature, at which point the bills would pass into law. President Trump has been very vocal in the past on the need to move forward on a legislative solution to the ongoing opioid epidemic reports CNBC.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40 percent of opioid deaths – or 46 lives lost per day – are attributable to prescription medication.