As 2017 begins, we all are numbed by the continued horrific increase in overdose deaths involving opioids which rose from 28,647 in 2014 to 33,091 in 2015. Heroin overdose deaths rose from 10,574 in 2014 to 12,990 in 2015, an increase of 23 percent. Heroin continues to flood our communities and new threats in the form of Fentanyl and Carfentanil are continuing to emerge virtually unstopped. When final 2016 statistics are revealed by the CDC, those deaths are expected to be even more gruesome.
Despite some progress in changing federal policies and legislation as well as the commitment of additional dollar resources in 2016, much more needs to be done.
FED UP is poised to continue exerting pressure on the Congress and the new incoming administration to turn around the continued expansion of opioid addiction and death. Our focus areas for 2017 include the following:
- Reaching out to the new administration and members of Congress to ensure stemming the tide of the opioid addiction epidemic is a priority public health issue. Prior legislation and policy changes are not enough.
- Encouraging the new administration to install a leadership team which is fully committed to public health solutions, not just criminal justice solutions, avoids conflicts of interest with the pharmaceutical industry, and fights to secure adequate funding to ensure our loved ones suffering from substance use disorders receive evidence-based treatment.
- Demanding the FDA be part of the solution to the epidemic rather than a contributor – we must end the excessive influence the pharmaceutical industry has on FDA decisions and we will not allow the FDA to underestimate the risks associated with opioids, approve new uses or formulations, or shorten approval processes without our voices being heard. In 2017, FED UP will make our presence at hearings and public comment meetings loud and clear.
Look for future updates about hearings, public comment opportunities, meetings/events as well as our 2017 platform.