Washington, D.C. — On Tuesday, May 8 at 10:00 a.m., the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Challenges and Solutions in the Opioid Abuse Crisis.” The hearing will examine best practices in international and domestic enforcement, and challenges and shortcomings in local prosecutions, treatment, and prevention.

In 2016, more than 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses. About 30 percent of these deaths resulted from an overdose of synthetic opioids like fentanyl, which can be as much as 100 times more powerful than painkillers such as morphine. The total number of opioid pain relievers prescribed in the United States has skyrocketed in the past 25 years and recent studies have shown that over half of chronic prescription drug abusers received the pills from friends or family.

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 Reduction Act, enacted in July 2016, and the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act, approved by the House Judiciary Committee in July 2017. And in October 2017, President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency under federal law.

Witnesses for the hearing are:

Panel I:

  • Robert W. Patterson, Acting Administrator, Drug Enforcement Administration

Panel II:

  • Dr. Timothy Westlake, M.D., Hartland, Wisconsin
  • J. Spencer Morgan III, Commonwealth’s Attorney, Accomack County, Virginia
  • Kristen Holman, Lynchburg, Virginia
  • Dr. Josiah Rich, M.D., Providence, Rhode Island

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) issued the statement below in advance of this hearing.

Chairman Goodlatte: “Opioid addiction and overdoses plague communities across the United States, affecting everyone from all-state football captains to stay-at-home mothers. These drugs destroy lives and tear apart families. Over the past several years, Congress has taken action to combat this epidemic, most notably by passing the landmark Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. However, opioid overdoses continue to climb each year, showing that much more work needs to be done to prevent drug addiction and help people seek the treatment they need so that they can reclaim and rebuild their lives. Next week, the House Judiciary Committee will examine the challenges our nation faces in addressing the ongoing opioid crisis and consider possible solutions to this problem.”

This hearing will take place in 2141 Rayburn House Office Building and will be webcast live at judiciary.house.gov.  Camera crews wishing to cover must be congressionally credentialed and RSVP with the House Radio-TV Gallery at (202) 225-5214.

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