(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) yesterday joined a group of 17 senators in a letter urging increased funding for critical prescription drug abuse prevention, treatment and research programs at the Department of Health and Human Services. In the letter to U.S. Senate appropriators, the senators request the nation’s response to the prescription opioid and heroin-related abuse and overdose epidemic to be strengthened through additional funding in fiscal year (FY) 2016.
“Prescription and illicit drug abuse is an epidemic in the United States that continues to grow at an alarming rate. Drug overdose deaths have skyrocketed in the past decade, largely because of prescription opioids, and they have become the leading cause of injury death in the U.S.,” the senators wrote. “It is critical that we make a strong commitment to strengthen our nation’s efforts to combat this epidemic.”
In 2012, drug overdoses caused more deaths than motor vehicle accidents among Americans aged 25 to 64. For each death involving prescription opioids, hundreds of people abuse or misuse these drugs, leading to a staggering increase in hospital visits in the last few years. Addiction to prescription drugs often leads to the use of illicit drugs such as heroin, and as the abuse of prescription drugs has increased, so too has the abuse of heroin.
In the letter to U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), the senators called for increased funding for domestic prescription drug abuse prevention, treatment, and research through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Increased funding in FY 2016 for critical initiatives at the CDC, SAMHSA and NIH is supported by the President’s FY 2016 budget, and will help reduce deaths and improve the nation’s health and safety.
Joining Senator Blumenthal in signing the letter were Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Edward Markey (D-MA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Al Franken (D-MN), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Angus King (I-ME), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI).
An online version of the letter can be found here.
An online version of this release can be found here.