Kaine joins McAuliffe in announcing Virginia drug abuse task force

kaine new2Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine joined Governor Terry McAuliffe, Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel and Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran in Richmond to announce the creation of a Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse Task Force.

In June, Kaine joined 11 other members of the Virginia Congressional delegation to call on Governor McAuliffe to establish a statewide task force to address the growing heroin epidemic in Virginia.

“I am grateful to Governor McAuliffe for forming a task force to address the prescription drug and heroin abuse epidemic that is threatening the health and safety of our communities,” said Kaine. “This summer, I witnessed firsthand the impact of addiction and the importance of recovery as I spoke with Virginians across the Commonwealth, including at a drug court graduation in Salem and a Project REVIVE training session in Lebanon. I’m proud to see Virginia taking innovative approaches to combat this crisis and I am committed to being a partner at the federal level.”

Today, Kaine announced his co-sponsorship of the Opioid Overdose Reduction Act and the Combating Prescription Drug Abuse Act, legislation aimed at reducing drug-related deaths across the nation. TheCombating Prescription Drug Abuse Act would establish a federal commission to recommend best practices for preventing and reducing prescription drug abuse, drawing on the input of law enforcement and health care stakeholders across the nation.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have established programs, including Project REVIVE in Virginia, which allow for the administration of opioid overdose drugs by non-medical personnel, including first responders, family members, and friends.

Unfortunately, individuals may be deterred from intervening in an overdose situation if they face civil liability. The Opioid Overdose Reduction Act is bipartisan “Good Samaritan” legislation that would protect individuals from civil liability who prescribe naloxone, an antidote that stops the effects of an opioid overdose for a short period of time. Virginia does not currently have a state law addressing this issue.

Kaine has raised concerns about drug abuse in Virginia with White House Drug Policy Acting Director Michael Botticelli and in a letter to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, which focused on the recent fda approval of Zohydro ER and how it could potentially heighten the public health risk of opioid abuse in Virginia. Kaine has also written to urge the Obama administration to move quickly to allow the Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to establish take-back programs for prescription drugs.

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