Congress passed a bipartisan bill to address the opioid epidemic, and this week the president signed it into law. It’s one of the few things that brought Democrats and Republicans together.
“Opioids is definitely an issue where there’s a lot of bipartisan agreement,” says Republican strategist Brian Bartlett. “We saw the Senate pass their version 99-1. The House also overwhelmingly passed legislation back in June the first time around to address this issue.”
Democratic strategist Brandon Neal agrees, saying the issue of opioids is a bipartisan issue affecting everyone.
On average, a person dies from an opioid overdose every eight minutes, according to the CDC.
“Right now, we’re in a point in our society where every average person, everyday person, is affected by this,” Neal says. “So, one pill kills.”
The impact of the problem is so big, it forced both political parties to come together to pass a bill that will boost programs to treat addictions, keep a closer eye on prescriptions and promote research to find new drugs that are not as addictive.
“I think the next step is to start enacting some of the changes this legislation offered, because in a lot of ways, this was a comprehensive bill, but we need to see what’s going to be most effective and what works,” Bartlett says.
Just this week, there was a small glimmer of hope. Early data shows the number of overdose deaths are beginning to level off and have even slightly dropped, according to Health and Human Secretary Alex Azar.
“The seemingly relentless trend of rising overdose deaths seems to be finally bending in the right direction,” Azar says.