Opioid overdose deaths on the rise, lawmakers push for more action

Published: Dec. 23, 2016 at 1:49 PM EST
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The drug and opioid epidemic isn’t showing signs of slowing down. As drug overdose deaths rise, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are pushing for more action, including those from states hit the hardest.

"We have the most overdose deaths and we need to take it very seriously," Ohio Congressman Steve Stivers (R-OH-15) said.

Ohio Congressman Steve Stivers reacted to new statistics from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Stivers says the numbers make him want to work harder to prevent more tragedies.

"We're continuing to move on things, but I think the next real level is trying to make sure treatment is more effective. Let's fund evidence-based treatment that works,' Stivers added.

On Capitol Hill, the issue isn't a partisan one. It's brought lawmakers on both sides together. They passed a comprehensive bill to fight the epidemic, but now the question is 'can they do more?'

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin called on federal agencies to step up their oversight of drug companies.

"You have the FDA continuing to put more products on the market. Then you have the DEA wasn't doing their job at all," Manchin said.

This comes after a West Virginia newspaper reported drug companies shipped hundred of millions of painkillers into the state.

"They can't tell me you can send nine million pills in two years to Kermit, West Virginia, with less than 400 people, and someone hasn't targeted it," he added.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every 19 minutes, one person dies from prescription drug abuse. That's a statistic these lawmakers remain committed to decreasing.