Manchin says Congress, President not taking opioid crisis seriously

Washington (NEWS RELEASE) – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) today released a statement on the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) new report on opioid overdose deaths in 2016. The report stated that in 2016, there were 42,249 opioid related overdose deaths in the US. That is a 28% increase over 2015. That’s 115 people dying every day.

“There has not been a year since I have been in the Senate that opioid overdose deaths have gone down, and this year is no different. Despite my best efforts to work with Congressional leadership and two administrations for nearly a decade, our country still cannot properly combat an epidemic that is ravaging our nation and that will change every aspect of our society for generations to come. After all of the trauma our neighbors, families, and friends have been through and after all of the strain we’ve put on our community, state, and local budgets and resources, we still do not fully appreciate the devastating impact of this crisis and continue to do far too little to stop it.

“What we are doing is not working and it is clear that we must double, triple or quadruple our efforts to strengthen addiction prevention efforts, get people into treatment, and prevent overdose deaths. We must help those who are suffering from substance use disorders get the help that they need so they can find a job, get their children back, and become a contributing member of society. We must rebuild our communities. For too long, we have focused on Band-Aid solutions as this crisis has compounded into too many societal issues to count.

“If we are serious about fixing this problem, we need targeted emergency funding to save lives now and permanent funding for treatment centers that can save lives tomorrow.  We need to commit to passing my legislation, the LifeBOAT Act, which would creating a permanent funding stream by placing a one cent fee on every milligram of opioid produced. This would bring in about $2 billion a year. We must also require that our medical professionals are properly trained on addiction and the dangers of opioids, we must ensure that our federal agencies are treating this as the public health crisis it is, we must fight for patients with substance use disorders to get the quality, coordinated healthcare that they need, and must give people who are in recovery a second chance to rebuild their lives. I have legislation that would do all of these things. I just need other public officials to step up and join me in this fight.

“Congressional leaders, government officials and my colleagues should be alarmed by the rate in which people are dying. By now, they should know that this problem and its consequences are not just going to go away and that I’m not going to go away or sit idly by as millions of Americans just continue to die. As a nation, we cannot accept this anymore.”

Drug-Related Overdose Deaths

  • In 2016, there were more than 63,600 drug overdose deaths in the US. That is a 21% increase over 2015. That’s 174 people dying every day or an overdose death every 8.5 minutes.
  • West Virginia had the highest overdose death rate in the country: 52 per 100,000 people. The national rate is 19.8 per 100,000 and the next two highest states – New Hampshire & Ohio saw 39 deaths per 100,000.

Opioid Related Overdose Deaths

  • In 2016, there were 42,249 opioid related overdose deaths in the US. That is a 28% increase over 2015. That’s 115 people dying every day.
  • The number of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (fentanyl, etc.) doubled from 9,580 in 2015 to 19,413 in 2016.
  • Deaths due to heroin rose nearly 20%.
  • Deaths due to other opioid pain killers, including hydrocodone and oxycodone, rose 14%.
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