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Public Statements

Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the chairman for his work on this issue and for working with Congressmen MARINO and WELCH and Congresswoman Chu as we sought to move the issue forward. We also thank Chairman Upton for working with us as we brought the issue forward.

The gentleman from Vermont mentioned the epidemic and the widespread abuse that is taking place in prescription drugs and the need to do something about that. We all agree on this, and here are some stats that really back this up and show why it has become an epidemic.

In 2013, more people died in the U.S. from prescription drug abuse than from heroin and cocaine combined. Deaths involving prescription pills quadrupled between 1999 and 2010.

In 2012, the number one cause of death in 17 States was prescription drug abuse. In 2008, more than 36,000 people died from drug overdoses. Most of these death were caused by prescription drugs. That 36,000 number isn't a number to be taken lightly. It is associated with names and faces and serves as a stark reminder to every family member who has lost a loved one to an overdose.

More can and must be done to treat this growing epidemic. That is why we have all worked together on H.R. 4709, the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2014. Our bill seeks to facilitate greater collaboration between industry stakeholders and regulations in our Nation's effort to combat prescription drug abuse.

There are three things that we set out to accomplish in this bill. Number one is to provide clarity to the phrase ``imminent danger to the public health or safety'' to ensure the law is crystal clear for both the DEA and legitimate businesses who want to understand what the rules of the road are, so they can do the right thing. Definitions matter and have real consequences.

Number two is require the Secretary of HHS to consult with industry players in the pharmaceutical supply chain; key regulatory agencies; Federal, State, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies; and public health experts to create a report to come to Congress within 1 year of enactment.

Number three is establish procedures for companies registered with the DEA to work together to develop corrective action that addresses concerns and clarifies key terminology in the Controlled Substances Act, so that everyone knows and has a better understanding of how to comply with the law.

This bill will not solve every problem that prescription drug abuse faces. It is one that is important that we take this meaningful step. It is a good step.

Congressman Marino, who has led on this issue, is to be commended. We have appreciated the opportunity to work with him to address what is an epidemic in so many of our communities and States.


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