SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - Two local leaders who represent parts of Rowan and Cabarrus counties in the U.S. Congress are working this week to deal with the opioid and overdose epidemic.
U.S. Representative Ted Budd (R-NC 13) is co-sponsorship the Restoring Enforcement Standards to Track Opioids Responsively Act (HR 4079).
According to a news release from Budd's office, the bill was introduced by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and aims to restore the Drug Enforcement Administration's ability to extract tough penalties from pharmaceutical companies that fulfill suspect shipments for opioid-based painkillers.
"The opioid epidemic has hit our communities rapidly over the past few years. In 2015 our state saw more than 1,000 lives lost from opioid-related causes," Budd said. "I am grateful for the incredible leadership and work to combat this epidemic demonstrated by our local government and community groups, but we should also look to give law enforcement every possible tool in the toolkit to fight the epidemic. Pill diversions to corrupt pain clinics are a major part of the problem, and this bill gives the Drug Enforcement Administration the capability it needs to fight back."
Additional co-sponsors include: Representatives Sinema (D-AZ), Comstock (R-VA), Keating, (D-MA), Jenkins (R-WV), Kuster (D-NH) Peterson (D-MN), Clark (D-MA), Rogers, (R-KY), Walz (D-MN) Lynch (D-MA).
Representative Richard Hudson (R-NC 08) is also working on the opioid issue this week, according to his office.
"The White House is hosting an event on Thursday on the opioid crisis," Hudson's staff wrote in an email to WBTV. "Because of his critical work and leadership on this issue, Rep. Hudson was the only NC House member invited and is the only member from the NC delegation attending the event."
"In addition, Rep. Hudson has an Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Wednesday on the opioid epidemic and the federal response, and Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, which Rep. Hudson recorded a PSA for. It's a very timely discussion."
Two weeks ago Hudson testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee as part of a bipartisan "Member Day" addressing the opioid crisis, according to a news release provided by his office.
The bipartisan Member Day allowed representatives to testify about the opioid epidemic, share local and personal stories, and highlight potential legislative solutions.
"Thank you Chairman Burgess and Ranking Member Green for giving me the opportunity to speak on behalf of my constituents," Hudson said. "As has been noted, the opioid epidemic is not an isolated issue. It's a nationwide issue and it deserves our attention. The New York Times noted last month that the opioid epidemic is killing more people per year right now than the HIV epidemic did at its peak in the nineties. These drugs do not discriminate based on gender, race, social class, or age and they destroy lives, families, marriages, and careers.