November 08, 2013

Udall Introduces Bill to Combat Prescription Drug Abuse

LOS LUNAS, N.M. - With the abuse and trafficking of prescription drugs on the rise in New Mexico and across the country, U.S. Senator Tom Udall, a member of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, today announced that he has introduced a bill to fight prescription drug abuse and misuse and improve treatment options to help addicted patients.

Udall unveiled the Increasing the Safety of Prescription Drug Use Act during an event he organized at First Choice Community Health in Los Lunas to discuss efforts in New Mexico to prevent prescription drug abuse and improve treatment options. New Mexico has one of the highest drug overdose rate in the nation, with 40 percent of those overdoses caused primarily by prescription drugs. Udall's event brought together members of the local medical and law enforcement communities to discuss strategies they're using and the challenges they still face.

"Prescription drug abuse is on the rise, and it's leading to addiction and death. More people die now from prescription drugs like oxycodone, morphine and methadone than from illicit drugs like heroin and cocaine," Udall said. "With this shift, the drug epidemic has moved from the streets to our medicine cabinets, and - all too often - into the hands of our children. I'm committed to working with local law enforcement and health providers in New Mexico, as well as officials and experts across the country, until we stop this epidemic."

The Increasing the Safety of Prescription Drug Use Act would expand medical education training and use of timely data to ensure that patients receive prescriptions safely and legally. The bill would strengthen monitoring techniques for existing high-risk prescriptions - such as by expanding the reach of a prescription drug database across states - and implement new measures to prevent prescription drugs from falling into the wrong hands. Increased patient assessment would help refer potentially addicted patients to treatment. The bill would also foster partnerships between the U.S. Heath and Human Services (HHS) and state and local governments to increase ongoing opportunities for proper medication disposal. New Mexico has piloted many of the initiatives in the bill, which could expand these efforts nationally.

Udall continued, "Access to high quality prevention services and effective prescription drug monitoring programs is critical to prevent and combat prescription drug abuse. Events such as the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day have shown success in removing unused, unsafe, expired drugs from the streets, but we must do much more to combat this crisis. I am proud to stand up for the overall health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities across New Mexico and the nation."

The full text of S. 1657, The Increasing the Safety of Prescription Drug Use Act, can be found below:

The Increasing the Safety of Prescription Drug Use Act by Tom Udall