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Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2015

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I am pleased that the House is taking up again bipartisan action today to address the serious issue that impacts families in each of our districts: prescription drug abuse.

Vermont, like Tennessee and many States around the country, is grappling with a serious opiate epidemic. In addition to alarming increases in heroin abuse, admissions for treatment of prescription drug abuse increased 361 percent between 2005 and 2013.

As we have experienced in Vermont, we are most effective in dealing with this public health crisis when stakeholders--providers, public health officials, law enforcement, distributors, and pharmacists--come together to tackle the problem head-on.

Today, the distributors of prescription drugs, along with local pharmacies, are experiencing unpredictable enforcement from the DEA. This has led to disruptions in the supply chain which limit patient access to prescription drugs for legitimate uses, as was evidenced by my colleague's story.

The Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act will encourage collaboration between law enforcement, members of the supply chain, and public health providers and officials while ensuring patients have access to the treatment their doctor has prescribed.

It has been a pleasure to work with Representative Marino, Representative Blackburn, and Representative Chu, who has been a major leader on this, and I thank them for their efforts and their leadership. I also thank Chairman Upton and Ranking Member Pallone for making this issue a priority of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

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I want to thank my colleagues, particularly Mr. Marino. We have the practical application of a commonsense approach here, where, on the one hand, you have got this enormous health need that the people whom we represent can have some of their suffering alleviated if they can get access to the appropriate prescription drugs. On the other hand, we do have an abuse. Folks get stuck on them, and we have got law enforcement out there trying to make sure they are enforcing the laws.

The need for law enforcement and the need for proper access to prescription medication have to coexist. This practical presentation that was spearheaded by somebody who knows how law enforcement works and is committed to the principles of good law enforcement, I think, really gave this Congress a boost in coming up with a practical, bipartisan approach to finding the right balance.

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