Press Release

U.S. Rep. Castor Calls on Congress to Address Opioid Health Crisis

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Washington, May 18, 2018 | comments
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL14) released the following statement calling for action in Congress to address the dire opioid health crisis – action that actually meets the scale of the epidemic – following a lengthy mark up of minor opioid bills by her committee, Energy and Commerce, this week and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit in response to the opioid crisis.
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U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL14) released the following statement calling for action in Congress to address the dire opioid health crisis – action that actually meets the scale of the epidemic – following a lengthy mark up of minor opioid bills by her committee, Energy and Commerce, this week and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit in response to the opioid crisis.

“I am encouraged that Attorney General Bondi has filed lawsuits against Big Pharma and distributors of opioids.  They have flooded communities across America with enormous quantities of drugs and must be held accountable,” said U.S. Rep. Castor, who challenged drug distributors in an Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing last week.  The Energy and Commerce Oversight Subcommittee has held a year-long, bipartisan investigation into the opioid crisis.

“It appears that House Republicans intend to bring a large number of bills to a vote over the coming weeks, but such a package will fail to significantly aid communities and families,” U.S. Rep. Castor continued.  “A large number of bills is no substitute for a significant congressional response to the major public health crisis.  Instead, Democrats are urging a comprehensive, robust plan that targets the entire spectrum of addiction: prevention, treatment, recovery and crisis response.  We must meet the epidemic with a response that is equal to the scale of this major public health crisis.  We must combat it with every tool in our possession.  That is why we should encourage Attorney General Bondi to fight for the strongest and most powerful legal challenges.  Taking criminal prosecutions off the table and talk of a settlement at the outset may not allow us to hold these companies fully accountable for their disregard for both the law and the health and safety of our neighbors.” U.S. Rep. Castor and her Democratic colleagues pressed for a comprehensive response to the opioid public health crisis during the markup yesterday of opioid bills by her committee, Energy and Commerce.

Consistent with Florida’s legal pleadings describing drug shipments in Florida, last week, U.S. Rep. Castor questioned CEOs of five drug wholesale corporations that distributed mind-boggling amounts of opioids to small towns and cities for many years, all across America.  For example, U.S. Rep. Castor pointed out that Cardinal Health, which is named in Florida’s lawsuit, had been sending about 4,000 pills a day to a small town in West Virginia even after it had been sanctioned by the DOJ for over supplying.

“I appreciate Attorney General Bondi’s decision to pursue this case and I urge her to proceed in a significant manner against these drug manufacturers and distributors.  By the same token I call on the majority in Congress to address this crisis in a meaningful way by robustly funding care and treatment for those addicted and significant action to address the crisis.  For example, after the HIV/AIDS public health crisis reached epidemic proportions, Congress adopted the Ryan White Act that provided consistent, reliable funds to families and communities across America.  A similar, bold response is needed now for the opioid epidemic and for our neighbors,” U.S. Rep. Castor added.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2,798 Floridians suffered opioid-related deaths in 2016 – a rate of 14.4 deaths per 100,000 – compared to the national rate of 13.3 deaths per 100,000.  They continue to state that in 2016, there were 1,566 synthetic opioid-related deaths compared to 200 in 2013.

U.S. Rep. Castor serves as the Vice Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees healthcare policy, has conducted investigations into the role of drug manufacturers and distributors in the opioid crisis and continues to press the majority in Congress for a large scale plan to take on the opioid crisis.

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