Greg Walden on the Opioid Epidemic: ‘The deadly scourge continues.’
Click here or on the image above to watch Rep. Walden's remarks.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, Representative Greg Walden (R-Hood River) called for continued progress to end the opioid crisis during an Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing.
Walden started the hearing off by noting that the opioid epidemic continues to impact people across the country, including those in the Second District of Oregon.
“As I was preparing for this, I noticed in my biggest county in my district -- they have a ‘Yellow Alert’ up for opioids,” said Walden. “Two overdoses on average per-week in Jackson County, Oregon. They had seven last week -- fortunately, no deaths. The first responders have administered naloxone in Jackson County five times in the last week. They believe that it is probably heroin with a heavy dose of fentanyl in it. The deadly scourge continues and we have much more work to do.”
Walden continued, stressing the importance of carefully monitoring the success of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, which Walden authored and was signed into law in October of 2018. The law, which was intended to curb the opioid epidemic, has already shown signs of early success.
“In my home state of Oregon, we’ve seen the results, with a 3.1 percent reduction in opioid deaths based on the most recent statistics from the CDC,” said Walden.
While the SUPPORT Act has resulted in positive outcomes, Walden acknowledged that barriers still exist between federal and state efforts to fight opioids.
In continuation with his efforts to combat the epidemic, Walden announced this week that he has reactivated his investigations into top opioid manufactures. In a follow-up letter to three opioid manufacturers, he pressed for further answers from the manufactures following an August 2018 inquiry he also spearheaded.
For nearly two decades, the Energy and Commerce Committee has played a key role in helping develop legislative solutions to the opioid crisis which has disproportionately impacted the lives of rural Americans. Walden, as Chairman and now Republican Leader of the Committee, has been a national leader on addressing the opioid crisis. Besides championing the SUPPORT Act, he led the charge on investigating bad actors who helped create the crisis, pressed the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for an update on recommendations of the report on pill dumping in West Virginia, and has continued to push new legislative ideas that Congress could consider right now to further efforts to combat the deadly epidemic.
Walden pointed to the need for Congress to accelerate the implementation of the INFO Act, which was passed as a component of the SUPPORT Act. The INFO Act calls for the creation of an easily accessible public database, which would coordinate all the nationwide efforts to combat the opioid crisis. Walden also called for action to reauthorize the fentanyl ban that is set to expire on February 6, 2020.
“We need to reauthorize the fentanyl ban, which is set to expire in a matter of weeks,” said Walden. “Reauthorizing the prohibitions on various forms of fentanyl has broad bipartisan support and we should be able to do this expeditiously.”
Learn more about Walden’s new investigation into opioid manufactures and his continued efforts to combat the opioid epidemic here.