Apr 04 2014
In a budget hearing on Wednesday with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), U.S. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rogers commended current efforts to curb prescription drug abuse, noting that Kentucky overdose deaths plateaued in 2012 for the first time in a decade. However, Rogers also asserted his concern for the rapid increase in heroin abuse in Kentucky.
"Though we have made some meaningful progress in beating back on prescription drug abuse and misuse, we have seen deaths related to heroin increase by 450% in Kentucky," said Rogers. "I know that you have been seeing similar trends on the national scale, and this uptick in heroin abuse is incredibly alarming."
Rogers also noted his concern for the nation's marijuana policies.
"This Administration has completely abdicated one of its chief responsibilities under the Controlled Substances Act," said Rogers. "The Department of Justice is turning a blind eye to state laws legalizing a Schedule I drug and instructing federal prosecutors to deemphasize marijuana prosecutions. This is simply not acceptable."
During budget hearings with Attorney General Eric Holder today and also last week with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Rogers shifted his attention to the FDA's recent approval of Zohydro Extended Release (ER), a powerful new pure-hydrocodone painkiller that does not utilize abuse deterrent technologies to help prevent abuse.
"It isn't a silver bullet, but these abuse deterrent technologies have absolutely got to be an arrow in our quiver, and the FDA is sending the wrong message to the industry by approving Zohydro without it," said Rogers. "It is removing whatever incentive these companies had from a business perspective to make the necessary investments in this evolving technology."
Also last week, in a joint letter with U.S. Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Rogers requested Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General Daniel Levinson to examine the relationship between industry and the FDA in facilitating the approval of Zohydro at the expense of public health and consumer safety.
Zohydro ER contains five to ten times more hydrocodone than any drug currently available on the market. It was approved by the FDA in the fall, despite a FDA advisory committee's vote of 11-2 against it.
“This drug manufacturer is essentially getting a pass. So, we're asking the Inspector General to examine the relationship between the maker of Zohydro and the FDA," said Rogers. "We want to ensure that patients are protected against dubious ethical involvement of corporate pharmaceutical interests and we believe IG Levinson can bring transparency to the situation."
Rogers also noted that many of these same issues will be highlighted during discussions at the National Rx Drug Abuse Summit in Atlanta, Georgia set for April 22-24, which is hosted by the non-profit organization, Operation UNITE.
Rogers has served Kentucky’s 5th Congressional District since 1981. With a focus on economic development, job creation, fighting illegal drugs and preserving Appalachia’s natural treasures, he has a reputation for listening to his constituents and fighting for the region he represents. For more information, visit http://halrogers.house.gov or follow Rogers on Twitter and Facebook.
Click here to read Rogers' opening statement in the FY 2015 Budget Hearing with DEA Administrator Michele Leonhard and NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow.
Click here to watch the budget hearing with AG Eric Holder.
*MEDIA NOTE: Rogers' opening statement begins at 18:00.
Click here to watch the budget hearing with FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg.
*MEDIA NOTE: Rogers' opening statement begins at 53:40.