The Senate passed Wednesday by a vote of 98-1 major bipartisan legislation to combat the deadly opioid epidemic across the country. It passed the House of Representatives last week 393-8.

Sen Ed Markey Image/US Senate
Sen Ed Markey
Image/US Senate

The bipartisan package, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Actpassed the Senate and the House and now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

The package contains dozens of policies and programs that will help improve the national response to the prescription drug, heroin, and illicit fentanyl epidemic that claimed an estimated 49,000 lives in 2017.

Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) said Wednesday, “Today’s vote shows what Congress can achieve when we put bipartisanship over paralysis, especially when it comes to tackling one of the biggest public health threats facing our country. This is a milestone for those of us that have been fighting this crisis for nearly a decade and a life line to families devastated by addiction,” said Senator Markey. “The proposals we passed today will help expand access to opioid use disorder treatment, connect individuals to life-saving care, promote recovery supports, and help prevent addiction from taking hold in the first place.”

Opioids treatment: Sens. Paul, Markey, Collins and Hassan introduce Addiction Treatment Access Improvement Act of 2018

“The bipartisan SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act will help save lives and strengthen our efforts to combat the deadly opioid crisis that is ravaging our communities,” said Senator Maggie Hassan, who helped develop the legislation as a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. “This bipartisan legislation gives communities and families the support that they need and have called for. However this fight is far from over. The minute that the President signs this legislation into law, we must begin working on the next bill to help strengthen treatment, prevention, recovery, and law enforcement efforts. The urgency of this crisis demands nothing less.”

Image/B_A via pixabay
Image/B_A via pixabay

“The opioid epidemic has devastated individuals and families throughout Kentucky and all across America, which is why I’ve led the fight to expand access to treatment by removing artificial roadblocks so more people are able to get the help they need. I applaud Congress for building on the progress we have made in the last few years by permanently extending the increased patient cap for Suboxone and ensuring more health care providers can administer treatment, and I look forward to the President signing this important bipartisan legislation into law,” said Senator Rand Paul (R-KY).

A physician by trade for over 20 years, Dr. Paul has been a leading advocate for increasing treatment opportunities for patients struggling with drug addiction by eliminating Washington’s overreaching and misguided restrictions on patients’ access to treatment.

“I am pleased that my bipartisan proposals to allow the safe disposal of unwanted drugs in hospice and bolster peer support networks were included in this comprehensive bill.  By supporting prevention, treatment, and recovery, this all-of-the-above approach will provide vital assistance to individuals and families who are struggling with addiction”, said Maine Senator Susan Collins.

Since the beginning of this year, Congress has approved approximately $8.4 billion to combat the opioid crisis.