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WV Congressional Democrats introduce RX drug abuse legislation

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West Virginia's Democratic Congressional representatives recently re-introduced legislation they first pushed in 2011, the Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, which is aimed at decreasing the number of opioid and methadone-related deaths throughout the country.

The Act was introduced by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., and Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., was a co-sponsor. Rockefeller and Rahall introduced the act in 2011 as well.

The act would call for new training requirements for health care professionals before they could be licensed to prescribe opioid and methodone; education for consumers about the safe use of painkillers; the creation of basic clinical standards for the safe use and dosage of pain medications, including methadone; increased federal support for state prescription drug monitoring programs; and comprehensive reporting of opioid-related deaths.

According to information from Rockefeller's office, West Virginia has experienced an increase in deaths and overdoses from prescription drugs in the last decade, with West Virginia ranked as having one of the highest rates of drug overdose deaths in the country.

"I've reached out to West Virginians – health care providers, schools, pharmacists – asking for new ideas on how to reduce prescription drug abuse," Rockefeller said in a news release. "This legislation reflects that real, on-the-ground feedback from West Virginia."

Rockefeller said the country needs a "broad, no-holds-barred approach to tackling is."

Rahall, co-chairman of the Congressional Prescription Drug Abuse Caucus, said in a news release that more patient awareness needs to come from the federal level.

"The prescription drug abuse epidemic is hitting southern West Virginia hard and taking a heavy toll on our families and communities, as well as our businesses and work force," Rahall said. "These are straightforward and necessary policy changes that need to take effect, and I will press hard for action in the House of Representatives."

Manchin said the legislation would be a positive step.

"Drug addiction hurts more than just the person abusing drugs; it destroys lives, tears families apart and hurts communities' abilities to create and keep good jobs," Manchin said. "Too many families and communities have been torn apart by drug abuse, and my heart goes out to them."

Rockefeller will join a roundtable discussion Rahall is hosting Feb. 21 at Marshall University's Forensic Science Center to talk about the public health and safety challenges of prescription drug abuse and trafficking in West Virginia.