Senator Joe Donnelly

Donnelly: Senate One Step Closer to Addressing Heroin and Opioid Epidemic

Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly released the following statement after the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. CARA is bipartisan legislation that would provide states and local communities with tools to prevent and treat drug addiction and support individuals in recovery.

Donnelly said, “I am deeply concerned about the epidemic of opioid abuse and heroin use that is devastating our communities. Too many families across Indiana and our country have experienced firsthand the pain of having a loved one suffering from addiction, which is why I have been working to stem the tide of this public health crisis. I’m pleased to see that provisions similar to those included in bipartisan legislation I introduced last year with Senator Ayotte have been included in CARA. It’s encouraging to see momentum in the Senate and I’m hopeful that this bipartisan legislation will pass the Senate this year.”

The version of CARA that passed out of Committee includes provisions similar to legislation that Donnelly and Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) reintroduced last year, including:

  • An Inter-agency Task Force to review, modify, and update best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication; and
  • A national awareness campaign to educate the public on the dangers of prescription opioid abuse and its connection to heroin.

CARA also includes provisions to expand access to naloxone for law enforcement and first responders, much like another program included in Donnelly and Ayotte’s legislation, as well as provisions to strengthen additional prevention efforts and increase access to treatment and recovery services, including initiatives for women, youth, and veterans.

For two years, Donnelly has been working to combat the opioid abuse and heroin epidemics in Indiana and across the nation. He has listened to Hoosiers, introduced bipartisan legislation, partnered with federal, state, and local officials, and brought together stakeholders. Donnelly reintroduced the bipartisan Heroin and Prescription Opioid Abuse Prevention, Education, and Enforcement Act with Ayotte in April 2015, which focuses on several key areas including enhancing training and education for prescribers; hosted a bipartisan roundtable discussion at IUPUI with U.S. Representative Susan Brooks (IN-05), Indiana and federal health officials, doctors, and pharmacists to hear a range of perspectives about best practices to help curb the opioid abuse epidemic; and made recommendations to the Governor’s Drug Task Force, providing suggestions for short- and long-term responses to Indiana’s addiction problems.   Donnelly also cosponsored and helped the Senate pass the Protecting our Infants Act to help newborns suffering from opioid withdrawal and painful symptoms associated with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). The Protecting our Infants Act was signed into law by President Obama in November 2015.

Both state and federal officials are acting on some of the bipartisan policies Donnelly has advocated for, including improving prescribing practices and enhancing prescriber engagement, raising public awareness of the dangers of prescription drug abuse and heroin use, and better utilizing prescription drug monitoring programs at the state level.

About Brian Scott

I play on the radio from 7 am -1 pm weekdays on 98.9 FM WYRZ and WYRZ.org. Follow me on twitter @WYRZBrianScott or e-mail me at brian@wyrz.org.

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