Sens. Markey, McConnell Address Crisis of Prescription Drugs, Heroin

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue a Surgeon General’s Report and Call to Action on prescription drug and heroin abuse.

With the opioid crisis reaching epidemic proportions across the nation, the senators sent a letter to HHS requesting the Surgeon General report and additional information on HHS’s plan to measure progress on the recently announced federal initiative to reduce opioid overdose deaths and addiction.

“Our home states of Massachusetts and Kentucky have been hit particularly hard by the opioid epidemic,” Markey and McConnell wrote in the letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell. “In Massachusetts alone, 2014 saw a 33{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} increase in overdoses from heroin or prescription painkillers since 2012, with more than 1,000 fatalities. Similar statistics in Kentucky show that the state continues to lose more than 1,000 lives to overdoses each year. In 2013, nearly 32{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of these overdoses in Kentucky involved heroin. This crisis of opioid-related overdoses strikes without regard to geography, age, race, or socioeconomic status, and it requires an immediate and sustained response. Given the magnitude of this epidemic, we believe a Surgeon General’s Report will help highlight the seriousness of this public-health crisis and spur national efforts that can assist communities most in need.”