Rahall Asks for Congressional Action on Prescription Drug Abuse

From a Rep. Nick Rahall Release

WASHINGTON, DC – As part of his ongoing efforts to bring national attention to, and advocate solutions for, the drug crisis in southern West Virginia, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) Wednesday testified before a House Subcommittee to push forward his bill to address the nationwide epidemic of prescription drug abuse. “Distressingly, West Virginia has our nation's highest rate of drug-related deaths. But the alarming use and deaths by prescription drugs is not just in West Virginia,” said Rahall, a senior member of the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse. “From newborn babies addicted to opiates to seniors overdosing, this nationwide problem knows no boundaries and it needs national attention.”

            Rahall requested the hearing before the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, which holds jurisdiction over the legislation he introduced, the “Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act.”  Rahall testified at the hearing at the invitation of Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman, House Judiciary Committee. Joining Rahall on the panel were U.S. Reps. Hal Rogers (R-KY); Mary Bono Mack (R-CA); and Stephen Lynch (D-MA), all co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse.

            “Prescription drug abuse is taking more lives in Kentucky than car crashes, and more lives around the country than heroin and cocaine combined,” stated Rogers, Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse.  “Our people in Southern and Eastern Kentucky have taken a stand that enough is enough, and it’s time for our federal government to follow suit. I was proud to stand by my colleagues in the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse today in calling for some meaningful legislative solutions that will stem the rising tide of abuse and allow our communities once again to flourish.”


Rahall’s testimony stressed the need to advance federal legislative efforts to address the burgeoning problem of prescription pill abuse that is impacting workforce readiness and affecting entire regional economies.


            “The toll of destruction and devastation heaped upon America's families and our economy by this epidemic demands the United States Congress must act, and act swiftly.  I have met numerous times with law enforcement, community organizations, educators, physicians, and many more of my constituents. Clearly, fighting back against prescription drug abuse will take the efforts of an entire village with determination and persistence and the coordination of federal, state, and local resources and networks,” Rahall testified.


            Rahall believes a united effort of national, regional, and multi-county resources can help local communities gain the upper hand in combating the drug abuse scourge at the local level.


            “I, and my distinguished colleagues, have put forth and supported legislation that aims to combat prescription drug abuse. We know that something more needs to be done from a federal level. These bills address the critical issues that ought to be part of this Subcommittee’s efforts to craft legislation to assist our states and communities in combating prescription drug abuse,” Rahall said.


            With almost every sector of West Virginia’s economy being impacted by drug abuse, Rahall wants to build a coalition of strong national partners – public and private, non-profit and for-profit entities – with help from the federal front to bring important resources to the table.


            “We must strengthen drug diversion, educate children and adults on prevention, work with the medical community on addiction and pain treatment, and treat and rehabilitate those affected by vicious addiction before they succumb to the death spiral. Let us act with dispatch and compassion and with an acute understanding of the enormity of the challenge before us. With the aid of legions of willing and able community professionals and leaders throughout the country, I look forward to working with you and my colleagues in the coming weeks and months to fashion a national response,” Rahall said.


           Rahall’s testimony  is one of several actions he has initiated to address the prescription pill abuse problem in southern West Virginia.  Last year, Rahall introduced H.R. 1925, the Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 2011, the House companion measure to the Senate bill authored by Senator Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), which would promote both physician and consumer education, as well as authorize federal funding to help states create and maintain prescription drug monitoring programs that all states can access.  He will participate in a bipartisan panel next month at the first national summit focusing solely on the issue of prescription drug abuse to help put Appalachia center stage in a national forum to direct attention back home. Last year, Rahall hosted a summit in Wyoming County to bring together federal, state, and local officials to focus resources on the burgeoning problem of prescription drug abuse in West Virginia.

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