Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Praises U.S. House Speaker’s Commitment to Anti-Drug Legislation

Mar 16, 2016
Press Release
Also Praises New National Standards for Dispensing Addictive Painkillers

Buchanan’s District is Epicenter of Florida Heroin Crisis

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, today applauded two important developments this week in the fight to combat escalating drug abuse in the country. Buchanan commended U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan for expressing a strong commitment Tuesday to addressing the opioid epidemic. And he applauded the federal government’s decision to publish the first national standards for prescription painkillers recommending that doctors try pain relievers like ibuprofen before prescribing highly addictive pills.

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. Nationally, 125 Americans die from drug overdoses each day.

“Our committees are looking at this right now,” said Ryan when discussing upcoming anti-drug legislation. “And a number of our members have been working on this issue. We need to make addressing this opioid epidemic a priority, and that is exactly what the House will do.

Buchanan is a co-sponsor and strong supporter of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) and the STOP Abuse Act. The bills represent a multipronged approach aimed at attacking the supply of drugs, preventing new victims through better education, and helping those already addicted recover and lead productive lives. 

Ryan’s announcement comes just days after Buchanan sent a letter to Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-VA, calling for the committee to send CARA (H.R. 953) to the floor for passage. Buchanan said he is very optimistic the House will act given the severity of the heroin and opioid crisis taking place throughout America.

“The heroin crisis is hitting my district hard and Speaker Ryan is absolutely right to make anti-drug legislation a priority,” Buchanan said. “I’ll keep pushing Congress to give our communities the resources they need to fight back against this scourge."

The number of heroin overdose deaths in Florida increased nine-fold, from 48 to 447, from 2010-2014, according to the Florida Medical Examiners Commission. Spiking heroin use rates are being driven by a “one-two punch” of cheap, available heroin and prescription narcotic abuse, according to CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden.

The sheriffs of Manatee and Sarasota Counties, as well as prominent area substance abuse professionals, have expressed support for the legislative approach Buchanan is taking, which includes strong backing for CARA.

Key components of CARA include:

• Funding for state, local, and non-profit drug education efforts for teens and seniors. 

• Providing grants for treatment and prevention to states, nonprofits, and municipalities.

• Creating new veterans-specific drug treatment courts. 

Buchanan is also a cosponsor of the STOP Abuse Act (H.R. 3719), which includes anti-heroin grants and would bolster anti-drug trafficking efforts.

For years, Buchanan has been a leader in the fight to crack down on prescription drug abuse. 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.