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Vern Buchanan calls on Senate to pass package of anti-drug bills

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The House of Representatives on Thursday finished approving the last of 18 separate bills this week focused on opioid addiction, treatment and prevention.

The series of bills calls for a number of actions, including:

  • Provide grants for treatment and prevention to states, nonprofits, and municipalities.
  • Address drug interdiction by targeting drug traffickers and cutting off the flow of drugs entering the U.S.
  • Deliver treatment to pregnant mothers and babies born addicted to opioids.
  • Create a task force responsible for reviewing federal guidelines for prescribing opioids.
  • Prevent the over-prescription of painkillers for veterans seeking care from the Veterans Administration and Department of Defense by re-examining current pain management treatment guidelines.
  • Create veterans-specific drug treatment courts and programs.
  • Require the government to evaluate the effectiveness of federal grant programs tasked with curbing the heroin and opioid crisis.

Among the series of bills passed include the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Reduction Act, co-sponsored by Sarasota Republican Vern Buchanan, which provides over $500 million in funding to states and local communities for education, prevention and treatment programs.

“Every day we delay acting to curb this deadly crisis more of our loved ones are lost,” Buchanan said. “It’s time for Congress to put partisanship aside and send this package to the president’s desk.”

Each day, 44 people die in the United States from an overdose of prescription painkillers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drug overdose is now the the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, surpassing car crashes, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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