Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly released the following statement after Indiana Governor Mike Pence announced new agency directives based on recommendations from his Task Force on Drug Enforcement, Treatment, and Prevention. Donnelly also commented on the Obama Administration’s announcement of a series of federal, state, local, and private sector efforts to address prescription drug abuse and heroin use across the country. For nearly two years, Donnelly has been working to combat opioid abuse and heroin use in Indiana and nationwide.
Donnelly said, “We must work together at the federal, state, and local levels to address the drug addiction epidemic gripping Indiana and our nation. I am pleased to see with today’s announcements that both our federal and state officials are acting on some of the bipartisan policies for which I have been advocating. Earlier this month I made recommendations to the Governor’s Task Force, and I am encouraged the Governor has agreed to direct state agencies to implement some of these recommendations, including an increased focus on INSPECT and advancing prescriber engagement and education. Also, I am pleased to see the Obama Administration acting to confront these epidemics through efforts to strengthen prescribing practices and launch of a robust public awareness campaign on the risks of prescription drug abuse. While the announcements today are good steps, there is a lot more we need to do in both the short-term and long-term.”
As part of his ongoing effort to combat the opioid abuse and heroin use epidemics, earlier this year, Donnelly reintroduced the bipartisan Heroin and Prescription Opioid Abuse Prevention, Education, and Enforcement Act along with Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), which focuses on several key areas: enhancing training and education for prescribers; supporting state development of prescription drug monitoring programs; ensuring adequate funding for law enforcement; expanding access to naloxone; and raising awareness of the dangers of prescription opioid abuse and heroin use. Donnelly recently made recommendations in a letter to the Governor Drug Task Force, providing suggestions for short- and long-term responses to Indiana’s addiction problems. In addition to offering specific suggestions to the Task Force, Donnelly emphasized that any strategy to address addiction in Indiana will require the State to not only identify necessary policy changes, but also make a commitment to implementing and funding those changes moving forward.
President Obama’s announcement included actions to improve prescriber training and practices in addition to a public awareness campaign to bring attention to this crisis, principles included in Donnelly’s legislation.