US Representative William D. Delahunt, making use of his bully pulpit before leaving office at the end of this year, is co-hosting a forum about prescription drug abuse and efforts to curb it through prescription monitoring and inter-state information sharing.
The forum on Capitol Hill Wednesday is an effort to educate lawmakers and the public about abuse and a recently completed draft compact that, if states sign on to it, will set out uniform monitoring, enforcement, information-gathering and sharing procedures.
"The important issue is we've got to get the states all on the same page," Delahunt said today in an interview.
He said he has been particularly concerned about the issue because of the rising tide of abuse in Massachusetts and across the nation. Delahunt's office said that between 2002 and 2007, Massachusetts lost 42 times as many residents to opioid-related overdoses than in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. And during the past year, Cape Cod and south shore communities have experienced a spree of bank robberies, other thefts and home invasions, and local police have noted that addiction to prescription drugs has played a role.
"The order of magnitude of how bad this crisis is, we can talk about war and peace and terrorism and the economy, and we're losing more of our citizens to the abuse of prescription drugs than we are in the wars we've fought," Delahunt said. "You extrapolate that to the rest of the country, and this is a form of terrorism that is really debilitating."
Speakers expected at this week’s forum, scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. in room 2226 in the House Rayburn building, include US Representative Stephen Lynch of South Boston and Massachusetts State Senator Steven A. Tolman of Boston, who chaired a state commission looking into oxycontin and heroin abuse last year. Also expected are John Eadie, executive director of Brandeis University’s Prescription Monitoring Program Center of Excellence, as well as top officials from the Drug Enforcement Agency, Office of National Drug Control Policy and the National Institute on Drug Abuse .
Delahunt is one of three co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse (The others are representatives Mary Bono Mack of California and Hal Rogers of Kentucky), and he said he is planning on championing the issue even after he leaves office. When pushed on his professional plans, Delahunt declined to discuss them but said, "I'm considering multiple options."
Donovan Slack can be reached at email@example.com.
About Political Intelligence