U.S. Sen. Bob Casey is introducing legislation to combat heroin abuse.
“Heroin and prescription drug abuse have taken a significant toll on Pennsylvania’s communities and families. Passing this legislation will put in place a robust and coordinated plan to tackle this type of drug abuse,” said Casey, unveiling his plan Thursday in a teleconference with reporters.
The bill calls for retraining doctors prescribing opioid drugs, giving money to states to educate people on the dangers of prescription drugs, and creating a national registry to track opioid-related deaths.
The Scranton Democrat said Casey thinks that even in a politically gridlocked Congress, the legislation will garner support from both sides of the aisle.
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“I don’t have a sense of what the opposition would be,” he said. “I think it’s pretty reasonable legislation.”
The proposal comes in the wake of a number of high-profile heroin deaths. Academy Award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died after a heroin overdose, and a rash of deaths in southwestern Pennsylvania were attributed to fentanyl-laced heroin.
Prescription painkiller abuse is giving way to heroin abuse in Centre County. Coroner Scott Sayers attributed at least 10 deaths to the drug in 2013. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, residents of Pennsylvania are the third highest abusers of heroin in the U.S., and four out of five new heroin users started by abusing prescription medication.
Casey did not have numbers on the cost of his proposed program during Thursday’s conference.