July 08, 2018

Senator Joe Manchin and other Senators contact CDC to help with overdose deaths | WOAY

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WOAY)- U.S. Senator Joe Manchin  joined a bipartisan group of Senators in urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide more resources and better support for forensic medicine practitioners as overdose deaths in the United States overwhelm medical examiners, coroners, and toxicologists.

The letter presses CDC on how it plans to ensure the forensic medicine community has the tools and support it needs to collect and share data to better understand, predict, prevent, and treat the addiction crisis.

The Senators said in part: “We must do more to address the growing demands on the forensic medicine workforce. As overdose deaths continue to rise, these practitioners face a significant demand for autopsies and toxicology testing. Suspected overdose cases are not all the same and are not all based on a single drug or single piece of evidence, resulting in an enormous workload and tremendous physical and emotional strain for medical examiners, coroners, and toxicologists.”

Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Angus King (I-ME), Ed Markey (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) also signed the letter.

According to CDC, there were more than 63,000 deaths in the U.S. due to drug overdoses, five times higher than the rate in 1999. The letter outlines the strain of increased overdose deaths on the forensic medicine community, as well as importance of collecting data on overdose deaths.

Full text of the letter can be found here and below:

Dear Dr. Redfield

Congratulations on your recent appointment as Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and thank you for your commitment to bringing our nation’s opioid overdose epidemic “to its knees.” We value CDC’s work in addressing this public health crisis and write to ask for your continued support for forensic medicine practitioners, including medical examiners, coroners, and toxicologists, who can play a key role in collecting data and responding to this crisis, but who lack the resources and support necessary to do so.

According to CDC’s data, drug overdoses caused over 63,600 deaths in the United States in 2016 – five times the number of overdose deaths in 1999.[1] Drug overdoses continue to increase across the entire United States population – spanning race, gender, and age. Timely and accurate data, such as those collected by CDC, are vital for making important policy decisions by helping to identify trends and prioritize resources.

By:  Daniella Hankey