WASHINGTON, DC – There is promising news in the congressional effort to combat the opioid crisis. Following legislative action led by the House Energy and Commerce Committee over the past two Congresses, overdose deaths are likely to fall for the first time since 1990 according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. This news comes just one year after the House passed the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, bipartisan legislation that represented the most significant Congressional effort to confront a single drug crisis in history. The FDA, DEA, HHS, are already implementing the new tools provided in the SUPPORT Act to rein in substance use disorder, advance treatment initiatives, and crack down on suspicious shipments of powerful painkillers.
The SUPPORT Act in the 115th Congress followed the passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and the 21st Century Cures Act in the 114th Congress. Congress also poured resources into this fight, helping to advance the $4 billion appropriated in the 2018 omnibus, as well as the $6.7 billion included in the 2018 Defense-Labor-HHS appropriations package to boost programs that fight, treat, and stop substance abuse, and support access to mental health services.
While this action is significant and progress is being made, there is still a long way to go in this fight. Overdose deaths is but one metric to evaluate progress, so as Energy and Commerce Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) said in a recent op-ed, “we will continue to listen, legislate, and evaluate until we win this deadly battle and help people overcome this terrible addiction.”
Overdose Deaths Likely to Fall for First Time Since 1990
For the first time in decades, drug-overdose deaths in the U.S. are on the precipice of declining.
Authorities are still counting fatalities around the U.S. from 2018, but provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are pointing lower. Those data predict there were nearly 69,100 drug deaths in the 12-month period ending last November, down from almost 72,300 predicted deaths for 12 months ending November 2017.
If the trend holds through December, annual drug deaths will fall for the first time since 1990, when overdoses killed about 8,400 people. December’s data will likely be available next month.
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