Energy and Commerce leaders applaud executive action to address opioid epidemic

Leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee applauded executive action taken by President Donald Trump to establish a commission to review federal policies to combat the nation’s opioid addiction epidemic.

Trump noted the public health crisis has caused families across America to endure significant pain, suffering, and financial harm. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 33,000 people died from opioids in 2015.

The commission will study the effectiveness of the federal response to drug addiction and the opioid crisis and make recommendations to the president for improving that response.

U.S. Reps. Greg Walden (R-OR), the chairman of the committee, Michael Burgess (R-TX), the chairman of the Subcommittee on Health, and Tim Murphy (R-PA), the chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said combating the opioid epidemic has been a top priority for the committee.

“Last Congress, our committee’s investigation into the rise of heroin and opioid overdoses hit close to home as we spoke with constituents, addiction treatment specialists and local law enforcement officials who have been on the front lines of this battle,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement.

“We know all too well that this crisis is still playing out in our very own communities and the people affected are our friends, family and neighbors. In light of the committee’s recent oversight efforts, we are encouraged that the commission’s review includes a focus on fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is increasingly responsible for overdose deaths across the country.”

Murphy added that Trump has taken an “all hands on deck” approach to the opioid crisis during his first 100 days in office, working to restore communities and repair millions of families torn apart by addiction.

“I look forward to working alongside the commission, the president and (Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price) to provide treatment before tragedy,” Murphy said. “As the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight continues to advance our multi-year investigation into the ongoing opioid and heroin crisis in America, this added focus will deliver results we so desperately need.”

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), the chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy, said fighting the opioid epidemic is personal to families in Michigan, where nearly 2,000 people died from opioids in 2015.

“We need to help those caught in the web of this unforgiving addiction through improving treatment, reforming prescribing practices and working with our law enforcement,” Upton said.

“Last Congress, we were able to usher the 21st Century Cures Act into law, which provided $1 billion for drug treatment. I look forward to engaging with President Trump, the commission and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle here in Congress as we continue working together to end this scourge.”