Pubdate: Fri, 01 Jun 2012
Source: Bluefield Daily Telegraph (WV)
Copyright: 2012 Bluefield Daily Telegraph


U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., says his fellow lawmakers in Congress 
must act, and "act swiftly," in helping the states and communities 
combat the scourge of prescription drug abuse. He's absolutely correct.

Lawmakers received their marching orders last April during the 
National Prescription Drug Abuse summit in Orlando, Fla. They were 
told to enlist, organize and share resources and talents to combat 
the prescription drug abuse epidemic. Rahall correctly notes that the 
national summit was a "wake-up call" for Congress to act on 
legislation that directly tackles the scourge of drug abuse.

Rahall himself has introduced legislation that would arm law 
enforcement, physicians and local communities in the fight by making 
it harder for pills to fall into the wrong hands and be misused, 
while ensuring that prescriptions are properly monitored.

Two weeks ago, the U.S. Senate unanimously adopted a measure 
sponsored by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to make it harder to get 
hydrocodone pills for illegitimate reasons. Manchin's amendment to 
the FDA bill moved hydrocodone to the list of Schedule II substances 
from the list of Schedule III substances. However, a compromise 
version of the bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives 
inexplicably did not contain Manchin's common-sense provision.

Go figure. The fact that the Democratic-controlled Senate and the 
Republican controlled House are unable to agree upon good, 
common-sense measures, shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.

In fact, partisan politics in Washington have gotten so bad, they 
can't seem to agree upon anything anymore. But when it comes to 
fighting the plague of prescription drug abuse, partisanship needs to 
be thrown out the window.

And Congress needs to get to work - immediately - on legislation that 
can help the states, the communities and law enforcement officials 
who are on the front-line of the drug war.

Drug overdose death rates in the United States have more than tripled 
since 1990 and have now reached alarming new levels. In 2008, more 
than 36,000 people died from drug overdoses, and most of these deaths 
were caused by prescription drugs.

Even more alarming is the fact that West Virginia currently has the 
nation's highest rate of drug-related deaths. In fact, between 2001 
and 2008, more than nine out of 10 of those deaths involved 
prescription drugs. Drug overdoses now kill more West Virginians each 
year than car accidents, and are the leading cause of accidental 
deaths in the state, according to Rahall's office.

So the question begs to be asked: Why is Congress dragging its feet 
on national legislation aimed at tackling the drug epidemic. Could 
partisan politics have something to do with it? If so, that is 
absolutely shameful.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom