WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today applauded a White House plan to create a federal commission designed to evaluate and improve federal policy to address the nation’s opioid epidemic. The commission would assess current federal practices and make recommendations to cabinet members on implementing policies that better prevent and address opioid addiction. According to reports, members of the commission would include Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, and Defense Secretary James Mattis. Brown invited commission members to visit Ohio to learn more about how the opioid crisis has impacted the state and how the federal government can better support state and local efforts. Brown also encouraged the Trump Administration to include input from other federal agencies, such as Customs and Border Patrol, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

“We need all hands on deck to address the opioid crisis, so I’m glad to see the White House taking action, and I’m ready to work with the commission to deliver real results for Ohio communities,” said Brown. “The commission’s first action should be to get out of Washington and see how the opioid epidemic is devastating communities across America, so I’m urging them to come to Ohio and learn from those on the front lines dealing with this crisis every day.”

Brown has worked to combat the scourge of opioid use in Ohio. Last week, Brown urged Governor George “Sonny” Perdue, President Trump’s nominee to serve as the Secretary of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), to continue USDA’s efforts to fight the opioid epidemic in Ohio communities. USDA has helped in the fight against opioids through its Rural Development grant programs, like the Community Facilities Program—which helps rural communities expand local resources like medical facilities and public safety services. Brown supported a strong Rural Development title in the 2014 Farm Bill to provide economic support to rural communities. 

Brown also worked with his colleagues Sens. Ed Markey (D-MA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to introduce bipartisan legislation last week to help U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) keep the deadly synthetic opioid, fentanyl, out of the country. Brown’s bill, the INTERDICT Act, would provide CBP with additional high-tech screening equipment and lab resources to detect fentanyl before it enters the U.S. According to a report from the Ohio Department of Health, fentanyl-related overdose deaths in Ohio more than doubled from 503 in 2014 to 1,155 in 2015. He has also fought against efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has enabled more than 900,000 Ohioans with health insurance, including more than 200,000 who are currently receiving treatment for their addiction because of the ACA.

Last Congress, Brown introduced legislation that would help address the opioid epidemic from prevention to recovery, filling in gaps that would help: boost prevention, improve tools for crisis response for those who fall through the cracks, expand access to treatment, and provide support for lifelong recovery. Brown supported the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), signed into law last year, which included his provision to combat drug abuse within Medicare by locking those with a history of addiction into one prescriber and one pharmacy to help mitigate the risk of prescribing opioids to at-risk patients. Brown was also a cosponsor of the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act, which passed into law as part of CARA and will help provide safer and more effective pain management services to our nation’s veterans. He has also worked to expand use of MAT, which was expanded under CARA, and cosponsored The Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment (TREAT) Act to further expand access to this form of treatment.