Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says the Judiciary Committee he chairs passed five bills targeting the opioid crisis late last week and five more bills on the topic are being considered in the Finance Committee.
Grassley says, “The opioid epidemic affects people from every background, rural and urban, everywhere, ruining lives and hurting families and eventually, affecting entire communities.”
State health officials say there were just over 200 opioid-related overdose deaths in Iowa last year. Grassley says those death rates are picking up dramatically in Iowa and nationwide in recent years and Congress needs to act.
“These bills are aimed at different aspects of the problem, transparency for drug companies, manufacturers and insurance companies, inpatient care services, accurate reporting systems and opioid production quotas,” he says.
A new report from the Drug Enforcement Agency predicts overdose deaths from fentanyl this year may top 70,000 nationwide, which would be a new record high. Grassley says fentanyl is prominent on his radar.
“Fentanyl would be covered by the general opioid things that are in the bills I talked about,” Grassley says. “In my sentencing reform bill, we do have massive amounts of mandatory minimum sentencing for anybody dealing with fentanyl.”
One of the bills that passed last week encourages increased participation of authorized collectors in drug take-back programs by awarding grants to states.
From California to the Carolinas to Iowa, Grassley says, “we have seen the devastating results of abusing illegal and prescription opioids, heroin or fentanyl.” Each measure, he says, will “help curb opioid abuse and its tragic consequences.”