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Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 3527, the Poison Center Network Act.
This bipartisan legislation will continue the important grants to our nation's 56 poison centers. These centers provide critical public health support to every state and are responsible for helping to reduce the number of deaths and the severity of illness caused by poisoning. They offer critical poison treatment advice and, in some cases, function as direct-service providers.
Poison exposure is a leading cause of unintentional injury in the United States. In fact, poison centers field approximately 3.6 million calls every year, including 2.3 million calls about exposures to poisons and adverse reactions to prescription drugs. By playing a role within the health care infrastructure, poison control centers reduce the cost burden on our health system. Annually, of all the calls to a poison control centers about a potential poisoning, nearly 90 percent of the calls are managed on-site and outside of a health care facility. This means that a caller gets the help they need over the phone without having to go to a doctor or the hospital. Both of which would be much more costly to the system. In addition, these services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at no direct cost to the people who call.
The poison control centers also help provide education and surveillance through operation of their toll-free national poison help line. In fact, poison centers are often the first to identify emerging public health threats. In the past few years, they were credited with identifying key health issues, for example regarding, energy drinks. They also were able to track the incidence of numerous food-borne illnesses.
Today's bill will continue these grants to support the work of these critical poison control centers. The return on federal investment is substantial and the work of the centers is proven to be valuable and effective.
Thank you to our Energy and Commerce Committee Members, Mr. Engel and Mr. Terry, for their leadership on this bill. I urge all Members to support its passage.
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