On average, 115 Americans are dying each day from an opioid overdose, that’s an opioid-related death roughly every 12 minutes.

What has been spotlighted by this administration and this Congress is that this form of addiction knows no boundaries. It is not unique to any specific gender, race, economic status, neighborhood, or age group. I am thankful that we are tackling this head-on with the help from law enforcement, physicians, treatment facilities and recovery centers.

In October, this crisis was declared a national Public Health Emergency, and Congress' response to the president's call to action was already teed up. We banded together to get resources for local communities that are at the scene working against this deadly addiction daily.

In June, we passed H.R. 6, The Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act. That legislation fights drug trafficking on our borders, improves access to treatment and recovery centers, better educates prescribers on the effects of opioids, and informing our combat veterans with battle injuries of the addictiveness of particular drugs.

I am most proud of is the funding that is going to intercept illicit opioids from being smuggled into the country from our mail facilities. It is ridiculous that Fentanyl, a drug that is 50 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine is being smuggled into our country via the southern border and our U.S. postal system.

China is the primary source of Fentanyl production globally, and is extremely lethal. Among the more than 72,000 estimated drug overdose deaths in 2017, deaths related to fentanyl accounted for 42 percent of those overdoses.

All that said, there is a bright spot. I am heartened when I look at Kansas. The awareness and proactive measures our state has taken to ensure we stay ahead of this crisis is remarkable.

In 2016, Kansas had less than half the nation's average of opioids-related-deaths. In comparison to our neighbors, Missouri had eight times as many deaths, and Colorado had four times the amount of opioid-related death rate.

In the Big First, Kansas health providers, like the Hutch Clinic are remaining proactive by developing research-based treatment protocols for acute and chronic pain, so that opioids are correctly prescribed and avoided if possible.

Across the state, our KTRACS system, used by Kansas pharmacists and physicians, keep track of patient’s opioid use and prescription dosages.

It is common that those battling addiction ‘doctor shop.’ Meaning that they go to multiple clinics to get opioid prescriptions. Some will also go as far as to write fake prescriptions and take the faulty scripts to different pharmacies to get these highly addictive drugs.

KTRACS stops these practices from happening by alarming other pharmacies and physicians when the same person is filling multiple narcotic prescriptions.

I want to salute pharmacists in Kansas that have been so integral in helping prevent the misuse of narcotics in addition to the KTRACS monitoring system. Kansas communities are taking great preventative strides to address this form of addiction.

While I am proud that we are allocating so many resources on treatment at a federal level, I always say that the best solutions can be found right within our communities. Kansas should be proud, but there is work to do yet. People will solve this problem, not the federal government.

 

Roger Marshall represents the 1st Congressional District of Kansas in the U.S. House of Representatives.