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August 12, 2021

Trone: Bipartisan efforts necessary for opioid fight

Credit: Cumberland Times-News, Lindsay Renner-Wood

CUMBERLAND, Md. — The president’s recent signature on a bill focused on the safe disposal of opioids is proof of the success of the bipartisan focus on curtailing the ongoing addiction crisis, U.S. Rep. David Trone said during a recent interview.

When President Joe Biden signed the Dispose Unused Medications and Prescriptions (DUMP) Opioids Act into law recently, he was joined in the Oval Office by Trone, a Democrat, and Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa, as well as Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy.

Trone and Miller-Meeks jointly introduced the bill in the House, and Kennedy joined with Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, and Republican Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana to introduce the bill in the Senate earlier this year.

The DUMP Opioids Act augments a January bill that will take effect in 2022, requiring the Department of Veterans Affairs to set up prescription drop boxes at all its campuses. Trone’s bill expands use of the boxes to anyone, not just VA patients.

Because opioids are commonly prescribed and therefore in many medicine cabinets, Trone said, it was important to provide access to safe disposal to everyone.

“If you take an opioid for seven days in a row, you’ve got a 15% chance of being addicted a year later,” Trone said. “The addictive properties of opioids, fentanyl in particular, are just amazingly bad. That’s why we’ve seen over 600,000 deaths now in the United States to addiction, which is roughly the same number we’ve lost to COVID. And, COVID has a vaccine, which will bring us out of that eventually. With addiction, there is no vaccine, so there is no solution. Addiction deaths will far surpass COVID deaths before this is over in the United States.”

Trone said Biden is “certainly well focused on the addiction crisis, and also the mental health crisis that America is facing right now,” and recognizes that the country “really needs to drill down in a bipartisan way on this mental health crisis and addiction crisis.”

“What I really love about this bill, and what President Biden really liked about the bill, was the fact that it was so bipartisan,” said Trone, a Democrat who represents Maryland’s 6th District, noting how crucial it is for both parties to work together in the face of the ongoing crisis that is “just hammering America.”

Trone said there were 93,000 deaths last year from overdoses across the country.

“That was a record we did not want to set,” he said.

Trone, who established the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force in the House, has introduced other items this year related to curbing the addiction crisis, including both a bill and a resolution entered with Republican Rep. David McKinley of West Virginia’s 1st District. Trone called McKinley “a great partner” in combatting the overdose crisis both nationally and regionally.

Such bipartisan efforts are crucial, Trone said, particularly in areas of the country like those he and McKinley represent.

“Western Maryland and West Virginia have just been ravaged,” Trone said. “There was a 46% increase in deaths in Western Maryland in 2020 from 2019. That was another record we did not want to set. So, we’re going to continue to work on many, many addiction bills that are across the board bipartisan.”