House panel to begin hearings on bills to fight opioid crisis

House panel to begin hearings on bills to fight opioid crisis
© Greg Nash

The House Energy and Commerce Committee announced Tuesday that it will begin holding legislative hearings on measures to fight the opioid crisis the week of Feb. 26, a step forward in addressing the epidemic.

The panel said that there will be multiple hearings to consider legislation aimed at fighting opioid abuse, an issue that has received bipartisan attention amid a rising number of deaths.

Opioids killed more than 42,000 people in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than any other year on record. 

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"Energy and Commerce has been at the tip of the spear when it comes to combating the nation's opioid epidemic, and we aren't letting up now," committee Chairman Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenDominant internet platforms must disrupt themselves Hammond pardons raise fears of emboldened anti-government extremists Oregon ranchers pardoned by Trump fly home on Pence donor's private jet MORE (R-Ore.) said in a statement to The Hill.

"The coming weeks will be critical as we work to address the epidemic in a variety of ways, in addition to continuing our rigorous oversight duties," he added. "It requires an all-hands-on-deck effort to put a stop to this scourge and we remain committed to that effort."

The specific list of legislation the panel will consider has not yet been released, but some ideas from a previous hearing in October are under consideration.

The panel said measures will include "modernizing federal laws to adapt for new treatments and technologies, like how drugs are taken or administered, as well as how to dispose of unused opioids."

The step from Energy and Commerce goes beyond previous hearings on the issue in general to consider specific legislation.

In addition, Democrats are pushing for increased funding to fight the opioid epidemic as part of the coming government funding bill, saying that funding is a crucial part of fighting the crisis as well.