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Letter to Max Baucus, Chairman of Senate Finance Committee and Chuck Grassley, Senate Committee on Finance

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

The Honorable Max Baucus
Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance
United States Senate
219 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Chuck Grassley
Senate Committee on Finance
United States Senate
219 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Baucus and Senator Grassley,

As a long-time voice in Congress on raising awareness and identifying solutions to reverse the growing prescription drug abuse epidemic, I thank you for leading the effort in investigating the ties between opiate drug manufacturers and medical associations and foundations that promote the use of these highly addictive and dangerous painkillers. An investigation of this nature is critically important to shed light on these questionable relationships.

As you know, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have determined prescription drug abuse to be an epidemic, largely due to the number of deaths from painkillers over the past decade.[1] In California, prescription drugs are the most popular class of drugs after marijuana for teenagers, and in 2009, 19 percent of 11th graders reported using a prescription painkiller at least once.[2] While most attention regarding this epidemic has been given to youth, senior citizens are also becoming increasingly addicted to painkillers. In Orange County, according to a report done by the Orange County Grand Jury, "the total amount of pain relievers prescribed in 2010 would have provided a prescription of 45 pills for each of the half-million seniors in the County… the amount of pain relievers being prescribed appear to be unaccountably high."[3]

Given these alarming trends, I commend your effort to investigate the likelihood that opiate drug manufacturers and certain medical societies have influenced physicians' and patients' attitudes and practices toward overconsumption and addiction. By failing to communicate the risks associated with these drugs, we are amidst a public health crisis.

Thank you for bringing attention to this public health epidemic -- an epidemic in which Congress and the Administration must play a leading role in combating -- and demanding answers for countless families who have lost loved ones. I stand ready to work with you to advance our shared goals.

Sincerely,

Mary Bono Mack
Member of Congress


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