WASHINGTON, DC – Bipartisan Energy and Commerce Committee leaders wrote to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Chad Wolf, and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon today regarding their concerns over reports of increasing use of stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, in the United States in recent years. The letters, which request a briefing from the three agencies, were first announced today during an Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on state efforts to curb the opioid crisis.
The letters were signed by Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR), Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Health Subcommittee Republican Leader Michael Burgess M.D. (R-TX), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Republican Leader Brett Guthrie (R-KY).
“We are concerned that while the nation, rightly so, is devoting much of its attention and resources to the opioid epidemic, another epidemic—this one involving cocaine and methamphetamine—is on the rise,” the bipartisan Committee leaders wrote in their letters.
Cocaine-involved overdose death rates began increasing again in 2012 after years of decreases. Cocaine was involved in 14,948 drug overdose deaths in 2017, which accounted for one in five overall overdose deaths that year. Rates of overdose deaths from all psychostimulants, including methamphetamine, have been increasing since 2010. In 2017, more than 10,000 Americans died from an overdose involving psychostimulants with abuse potential, which was a 37 percent increase from 2016.
“We remain committed to advance treatment, improve prevention, protect communities, and bolster efforts to fight deadly illicit drugs like opioids and fentanyl. However, our country’s fight against illicit substances must be multi-faceted and we want to ensure that the appropriate attention and resources are devoted to combat these other substances as well. Accordingly, we seek to better understand how the relevant agencies are monitoring and combating this growing threat,” the Committee leaders continued.
CLICK HERE to read the letters.