The FED UP Coalition is saddened to report that opioid-related overdose deaths continue to rise, seemingly unabated. Nationally, opioid overdose deaths rose 15% from 28,647 in 2014 to 33,091 in 2015. Heroin overdose deaths are skyrocketing because fentanyl is frequently mixed in with the heroin or sold as heroin. Final 2016 statistics, when reviewed and released by the CDC, are expected to be even more horrific.
Since our last rally in Washington, DC, we did see some federal action including the addition of new funding to implement the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and $920M in new state-directed treatment grant resources included in the 21st Century Cures Act. Also, the cap on the number of patients a practitioner may treat with buprenorphine was lifted to 275.
Since January, the Trump administration has assumed responsibility for providing leadership and for implementing needed federal solutions to the continued surge in opioid addiction in the country.
Despite new actions implemented late last year and the arrival of a new administration, we remain greatly disappointed in the lack of action. Since January, we have seen the following:
- The appointment of an FDA Commissioner with a long, well documented list of financial conflicts with the industry he is charged with overseeing.
- The selection of a now withdrawn nominee at the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) who previously co-sponsored a bill to shield drug distribution companies clearly supporting pill mill operations.
- The dramatic slashing of the budget for ONDCP (now partially restored in the President’s recent budget).
- A health care reform proposal that, in its current formulation, may reduce access to opioid addiction treatment.
- An Attorney General who continues to express an interest in bringing back the failed “war on drugs”.
- A DHHS Secretary who repeats a false contention that Medication Assisted Therapy substitutes one addiction for another.
And, as we all know, the epidemic of addiction and deaths rages on into 2017. FED UP is poised to continue exerting pressure on Congress and the Trump administration to bring this public health catastrophe under control. In 2017 we will:
- Demand that FDA be part of the solution to the epidemic rather than a contributor – (We are pleased by the decision to pull Opana off the market. But there are other opioid formulations that should also be removed. And FDA must stop approving new opioids).
- Fight to ensure the prescriber education in the FDA Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) is free from pharmaceutical industry bias.
- Advocate for FDA to add an upper dosage and duration limits to opioid labels.
- Hold the Trump administration accountable for installing a leadership team which is fully committed to public health solutions, not just criminal justice solutions and avoids conflicts of interest with the pharmaceutical industry.
- Advocate for the Trump Administration to seek adequate funding for addiction treatment.
- Advocate for Congress to allocate adequate funding for addiction treatment.
- Advocate for federal requirements to make use of state Prescription Data Monitoring Systems mandatory.
The 2017 FED UP! events will include a series of activities in Washington DC on August 31coincident with International Overdose Awareness Day remembrance events around the country.
Thank you for your support of the FED UP! Coalition to End the Opioid Epidemic!