Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today delivered the following statement during the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing on “Challenges and Solutions in the Opioid Abuse Crisis.”

Chairman Goodlatte: Good morning.  America is in the middle of an epidemic it has never seen before. The opioid crisis knows no bounds. It is affecting individuals and families in every Congressional district. Its consequences, ranging from personal health to the economy, are devastating.

The opioid epidemic represents the convergence of the abuses of opioids, heroin and synthetic drugs like fentanyl. Individuals suffering from addiction often switch between using opioids and heroin based on a variety of factors including cost and purity. Drug traffickers are further exploiting personal misery by adding deadly fentanyl analogues to the heroin and the illicit opioid supplies to increase their profits. Sadly, unwary and unsuspecting users are suffering deadly results. More frequently, pure fentanyl analogues in the illicit drug supply are resulting in overdose deaths and injuries to first responders. Since these analogues can be deadly in quantities as little as two milligrams, police and other first responders can unknowingly inhale airborne fentanyl or have it come in contact with their skin, causing them to overdose and suffer other severe reactions.

Tragically, more than 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016. The sharpest increase occurred among deaths related to synthetic opioids with over 20,000 overdose deaths. Not only has the total number of opioid pain relievers prescribed in the United States skyrocketed in the past 25 years, but recent studies have shown that over half of chronic prescription drug abusers received the pills from friends or family. In 2018, more than 2 million Americans will suffer from addiction to prescription or illicit opioids.

Over the past two years the House Judiciary Committee and Congress have passed several bills to address the opioid crisis.  These bills include the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, or “CARA”, enacted in July 2016, and the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act, or “SITSA”, approved by the House Judiciary Committee in July 2017. While much work has been done, we must redouble our efforts to turn the tide in this crisis.  We know now more than ever that a crisis like this requires dynamic and outside-of-the-box solutions.

Today’s hearing will examine what’s working and what needs to be looked at again in the opioid crisis. We will learn about best practices in international and domestic enforcement, and promising solutions in treatment and prevention. We will also hear about the devastation ravaged by this epidemic from a first-hand perspective.

I thank all the witnesses for appearing today, and I look forward to their responses to our questions.