Greg Walden: We’re making progress, but the battle to defeat the opioid epidemic is far from over
This week, Representative Greg Walden (R-Hood River) penned an op-ed in Modern Healthcare, highlighting the historic efforts he has helped achieve as Chairman and now Republican Leader of the Energy and Commerce Committee to combat the opioid crisis. He makes it clear that there is more work to be done this Congress to fight fentanyl, improve treatment for substance use disorder, and investigate the bad actors responsible for this epidemic.
An excerpt of the Congressman's op-ed is below. The full article may be viewed here.
By: Rep. Greg Walden
“Amanda was a beautiful girl full of life.” Those are the words of Michael Gray, speaking about his beloved daughter as part of a roundtable discussion before the Energy and Commerce Committee in 2018 to hear directly from patients and families who have felt the devastation of the opioid crisis.
Amanda, just 24 years old, was killed last year by pure fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. Fentanyl is so deadly that a small amount—as much as a few grains of salt—is enough to kill.
It’s another beautiful life cut short by the devastating disease of addiction and another family turned upside down by an epidemic that took more American lives over the past year alone than the entire Vietnam War. That is the heartbreaking story of the opioid crisis that has gripped our nation and one I have heard countless times at roundtables and town halls throughout my Oregon district.
Thankfully, this story is far from finished.
Last year, President Donald Trump signed my legislation—the Support for Patients and Communities Act—into law as part of our efforts to stem the tide of addiction and save lives. This represented the largest congressional effort to combat a single drug crisis in history.
This law is already making significant impacts in the fight against the opioid crisis. Key provisions of the law are being implemented on the ground just as new preliminary data show a decline in drug overdose deaths for the first time in nearly 30 years.
We cannot allow this progress to turn into complacency. Read the pages of your local newspapers, hear the words of parents like Michael Gray, and it’s clear our work is far from over.
Fortunately, we do not have to go back to the drawing board to continue the progress made in the Support Act. Two critical, bipartisan pieces of legislation that passed alongside the Support Act in the House last year were unfortunately never considered by the Senate. Both have been reintroduced this Congress.
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