Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (MD-4) and Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (CA-45) were joined by over two dozen Members of the House to introduce the bipartisan Stop Overdose Stat (S.O.S.) Act. The S.O.S. Act will create a create a federal grant program to support overdose prevention efforts across the country, including education, training for caregivers and individuals at-risk of an overdose, and how to administer first aid and medication that reverses quickly an overdose from heroin and opioid pain relievers.
"The S.O.S Act will fight a growing health crisis that is going largely unnoticed in our country," said Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards. "Approximately 30,000 Americans die each year from drug overdoses, yet the national response to combat this ongoing crisis remains woefully inadequate. It is time that the federal government took on an active role in promoting proven treatments recommended by medical associations. I want to thank Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack for joining me in introducing the S.O.S. Act, and I look forward to working with all my colleagues to pass this bill into law."
"As Americans, we rally around efforts to fight breast cancer, childhood diseases and other serious health threats. But for far too long, there have only been hushed whispers about prescription drug abuse -- now the fastest growing drug problem in America. So as the death toll from prescription drug overdoses continues to rise sharply, it's time to move this story from the obituary page to the front page where it belongs. It's time to realize that we can't simply wish this horrific problem away. Not with more than 20,000 people a year dying from it. Not when the number of newborn babies who must be withdrawn from opiate dependence at birth has tripled in the past decade. Not when nearly one out of 4 high school seniors has used prescription painkillers. This is nothing less than a national tragedy. If 20,000 people died each year from food poisoning, Americans would demand immediate action," said Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack.
Although drug overdose is entirely preventable, it has risen above car accidents as the leading cause of injury-related death for individuals ages 35-54 and is now the second leading cause for young people. Since the late 1990s, fatal overdoses have jumped more than 140 percent nationwide, claiming more than 36,450 lives in 2008 and 28,500 lives in 2009. Overdoses from illegal drugs persist as a major public health problem, yet fatal overdoses from prescribed opioid pain relievers such as oxycodone account for more than 40 percent of all overdose deaths.