Working Together to Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse
January 9th, 2016

Senators Join Physicians, Pharmacists, Advocates and Experts for Discussion on Comprehensive Solutions to Prescription Drug Abuse Ohio mother to share story of child born with opioid addiction

WASHINGTON (September 16, 2015) – Experts representing those on the front lines of the battle against prescription drug abuse joined Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) for a candid discussion hosted by the Alliance to Prevent the Abuse of Medicines (the Alliance) on Wednesday, September 16 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the Kennedy Room in the Russell Senate Office Building. The roundtable, moderated by Richard Hamburg, deputy director at Trust for America’s Health , focused on sharing best practices and providing policy recommendations for Congress.

Panelists ranged from pain and addiction specialists to non-profit leaders and advocates including: Fred Wells Brason II, president and CEO of the community-based opioid overdose prevention program Project Lazarus , Tom Davis, vice president of Pharmacy Professional Services for CVS Health , Dr. Randy Easterling, veteran addiction psychologist and medical director at Marion Hill Chemical Dependency Unit , Paul Gileno, chronic pain survivor and founder and president of the U.S. Pain Foundation , Dr. Cathy Starner, pharmacotherapy specialist and principal health outcomes researcher at Prime Therapeutics , and Dr. Michele Walsh, neonatal specialist and professor of pediatrics, chief of the neonatology division and interim chairperson of the pediatrics department at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Childrens Hospital and Case Western Reserve University .

Carrie Baker , director of public policy and advocacy for the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association and adoptive mother of an infant born addicted to opioids, opened the event by sharing her personal story and gratitude to panelists for bringing attention to this issue.

Earlier this year, Senators Portman and Whitehouse introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at combatting addiction and overdoses.

“I’ve seen firsthand how the opioid epidemic is hurting Ohio families and communities,” Portman stated. “It’s critical that we tackle this issue head on which is why I’ve introduced legislation to help turn the tide in the struggle against opioids. It’s critical that we continue to come together to implement a comprehensive strategy that both addresses opioid abuse and supports long-term recovery to help Americans struggling with addiction.”

“More than 200 people died from drug overdoses last year just in Rhode Island, and our states and municipalities urgently need more resources to help prevent addiction and support recovery,” said Whitehouse.  “I’ll keep working with Senator Portman and others to urge Congress to take action.”

The Alliance, founded in 2013 by its members the American Medical Association (AMA), Cardinal Health, CVS Health, Healthcare Distribution Management Association (HDMA), kaléo, Millennium Health, Prime Therapeutics, and Teva Pharmaceuticals, has been working alongside federal legislators to craft comprehensive solutions to the growing prescription drug abuse epidemic. As stakeholders from across the entire domestic drug supply chain, the Alliance members have come together to encourage lawmakers, nonprofits, state and federal governments, and members of the media to join the discussion on how to curb prescription drug abuse.

Prescription drug abuse has been described by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a “growing, deadly epidemic” that impacts more that 6 million Americans and has become a key policy issue for legislators on the local, state, and federal level as it continues to ravage communities across the country.

“Prescription drug abuse is a complex issue that requires a multi-faceted, effective approach that incorporates stakeholders at every level—from industry leaders to community activists,” said Alliance spokesperson Danielle Hagen . “The Alliance has organized this event for more than just a unique discussion; this is a call to action for legislators on both sides of the aisle to come together and push forward comprehensive, lifesaving policy solutions.”