Cummings Praises President Obama’s Proposal to Address Prescription Opioid and Heroin Abuse

Feb 2, 2016
Press Release

Cummings Praises President Obama’s Proposal to Address Prescription Opioid and Heroin Abuse


Washington, D.C. (Feb. 2, 2016)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, praised President Obama’s proposal of over $1 billion in new funding to address prescription opioid and heroin abuse.

“I strongly support President Obama’s plans for additional funding to tackle the opioid epidemic sweeping our nation, including my city of Baltimore,” Cummings said.  “For many years, our policy has been to incarcerate rather than rehabilitate those suffering from addiction, but more and more policymakers are realizing that when we criminalize addiction, we make recovery even more difficult.

“Opioid and prescription drug abuse plague all populations, and must be treated as public health issues. I urge all my colleagues to support this proposal, which will save lives and help all our communities.”

Prescription opioid and heroin abuse have taken a devastating toll on many American families, and strain resources of law enforcement and treatment and prevention programs. More Americans now die every year from drug overdoses than they do in motor vehicle crashes. New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that opioids—a class of drugs that include prescription pain medications and heroin—were involved in 28,648 deaths in 2014.  In particular, CDC found a continued sharp increase in heroin-involved deaths and an emerging increase in deaths involving synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl.

The Baltimore region has been plagued by opioid abuse for decades. By 1998, heroin use had overtaken cocaine use in the region, and in 2000, the Drug Enforcement Administration found that Baltimore had the highest per capita rates for heroin use in the entire country.  

Congressman Cummings, whose congressional district includes much of Baltimore, is helping lead the charge in Congress to address our nation’s opioid abuse epidemic. As Ranking Member of the Committee, he participated in a hearing in December 2015 on the reauthorization of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, where he spoke about the dangers of the heroin epidemic and the importance of tackling drug addiction through treatment and prevention efforts.  Since last year, Cummings has been investigating the increasingly high prices that states like Maryland are being charged for the life-saving opioid overdose drug naloxone. In February 2015, he highlighted the importance of the Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area’s (HIDTA) work in Baltimore to combat the heroin epidemic at the HIDTA Program National Conference. In March 2015, Cummings co-led 70 of his House colleagues in a bipartisan letter to the House Appropriations Committee requesting $250 million in funding for HIDTA for FY 2016—a level of funding which was included in the House Appropriations bill, as well as the final funding package passed in December 2015.


114th Congress