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Sens. Ayotte, Donnelly introduce bill to combat heroin, prescription abuse

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., introduced legislation Thursday to try to stop the abuse of prescription pain medication and give police the tools they need to fight heroin abuse and addiction.

The bill would create an interagency task force to create new prescription practices for pain medication to allow for proper use with patients while preventing abuse.

Research has shown that roughly four out of every five new heroin users saying they became addicted to prescription pain medication before using heroin.

The task force would be made up of physicians and other drub prescribers, pharmacists, officials from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Defense Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Veterans Affairs Department, treatment providers and representatives from pain advocacy groups and pain professional organizations, as well as pain and addiction researchers.

Said Ayotte, “First responders and public health officials in New Hampshire have told me that abuse of prescription pain medication can lead down the path to heroin use and addiction. This bipartisan legislation takes a multi-pronged approach to address the prescription opioid and heroin abuse epidemics by calling for the development of widely-recognized best prescribing practices related to pain management.

“The bill will also give law enforcement greater access to important tools to fight heroin use, and calls for a well-coordinated drug awareness campaign with a particular focus on the links between prescription opioid abuse and heroin addiction,” Ayotte said. “I’m pleased to work with Sen. Donnelly on this common-sense legislation, which addresses an urgent public health matter.”

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