In Ohio, we are under siege from a drug use and overdose epidemic, averaging five deaths per day. That is why I hold an annual Opiate Roundtable in the district, which brings together state and local officials as well as law enforcement, treatment experts and the medical community to discuss strategies to address this terrible epidemic.
We have also seen a record number of babies in the United States being born suffering from withdrawal. Here in Ohio, the rate of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) grew over 600 percent from 2004 to 2011. This is a tragic statistic, and I believe we need to do something to stop it.
Protecting Our Infants Act: That is why I joined Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA) to introduce the Protecting Our Infants Act. This bill requires the Department of Health and Human Services to develop best practices for medical professionals dealing with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. I am proud that this bill was signed into law by the President on November 25, 2016.
Reducing Unused Medications Act: I am also proud to be the lead cosponsor of H.R. 4599, the Reducing Unused Medications Act, which would allow prescriptions for opioid medications to be partially filled by pharmacists at the request of patients or doctors. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 70 percent of adults who misuse prescription opioids get them from friends or relatives. This legislation would reduce the number of unused painkillers. I am proud that this legislation was included in the final passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which was signed then signed into law by President Obama.
RESULTS Act: Moving forward, we need to build on these pieces of legislation through initiatives such as supporting evidence-based treatment, removing pain as a vital sign, exploring alternative treatments, and tapering opioid use. Just this year, I joined Congressman Eliot L. Engel (D-NY) to introduce the Reinforcing Evidence-Based Standards Under Law in Treating Substance Abuse (RESULTS) Act. This bipartisan legislation would ensure that federal grants intended to treat mental health and substance use disorders fund initiatives that are backed by sound evidence, or will help build the evidence base for innovative therapies.
Drug addiction is an issue that affects our families, communities, states and the nation. Please know that I am committed to the fight against drug addiction.
VIDEO: CLICK HERE for a video of Stivers speaking on the House Floor on September 8, 2015 in support of the Protecting Our Infants Act.