Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Applauds House Passage of Sweeping Anti-Heroin Legislation

Jul 8, 2016
Press Release
Manatee County Reports Alarming Spike in Overdoses

WASHINGTON – Congressman Vern Buchanan today praised House passage of legislation he co-sponsored aimed at reducing heroin and opioid addiction.

“Today’s vote is a significant step toward breaking heroin’s deadly grip on America,” Buchanan said. “The Senate is all that stands between this bill and the president’s desk, and I urge our senators to take action as quickly as possible.”

The bill was a compromise measure approved by a joint House-Senate committee.

The legislation includes a number of anti-drug provisions that Buchanan has supported as Congress has struggled to fund anti-heroin programs.

They include:

  • Grants for drug treatment and prevention to states, nonprofits and municipalities.
  • Treatment funds for pregnant mothers and babies born addicted to opioids.
  • Creation of a task force responsible for reviewing federal guidelines for prescribing opioids.
  • Preventing the over-prescription of painkillers for veterans seeking care by re-examining current pain management treatment guidelines.
  • Creation of veterans-specific drug treatment courts and programs.
  • Requiring the government to evaluate the effectiveness of federal grant programs tasked with curbing the heroin and opioid crisis.
  • Improving the ability of the U.S. to prosecute international drug kingpins without risking the public disclosure of classified information in court proceedings. 

Buchanan represents Manatee County, the epicenter of the heroin crisis in Florida. Manatee County had more heroin overdose deaths per capita than any other Florida county in 2014 and is currently experiencing a spike in drug overdoses. Palmetto police chief Scott Tyler recently described the increase as “alarming,” according to the Bradenton Herald.

The number of heroin overdose deaths in Florida increased 900 percent from 2010-2014, according to the Florida Medical Examiners Commission. 

“I’m very concerned that overdoses are rising in our neighborhoods,” Buchanan said. “I want to make sure that anti-drug resources go where they’re needed as quickly as possible.”

The Congressman has been an active leader in addressing the heroin crisis in Florida. In May, Buchanan chaired a hearing examining the impact of addiction on kids. Earlier this year he hosted a roundtable in Bradenton, Fla. with local police officers, medical professionals and stakeholders. Buchanan also recently chaired a meeting of the bipartisan 29-member Florida congressional delegation in Washington, DC where members heard testimony from Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, author of many of the provisions that passed the U.S. House today, and anti-drug experts. Buchanan serves as co-chair of the Florida delegation.

Buchanan also has been at the forefront of the fight to crack down on drug abuse for years. In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Agency adopted Buchanan’s proposal to make it more difficult for abusers to obtain certain highly addictive narcotics.