November 17, 2021

Manchin: Grim Milestone of 100,000 Overdose Deaths In a Year Requires Immediate Action to Address Devastating Drug Epidemic

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) urged immediate action to address the drastic increase in overdose related deaths in the last year. From April 2020 to April 2021, provisional data shows that more than 100,000 Americans and 1,607 West Virginians died from drug related overdoses, the highest number ever recorded over a 12-month period. West Virginia continues to have the highest rate of overdose deaths in the country, with 90 deaths per 100,000 people, almost triple the national average of 31.5 deaths per 100,000 people.
“From April 2020 to April 2021, more than 100,000 Americans and 1,607 West Virginians died from a drug related overdose. Today’s heartbreaking milestone makes it crystal clear that we have not done enough, and must take immediate, swift action to address the drug epidemic that continues to ravage our nation and West Virginia. This also shows that we must have new, dedicated leadership at the FDA that understands the gravity of the drug epidemic and will fight back against the greed of the pharmaceutical industry,” said Senator Manchin. “I will continue to work tirelessly to advocate for funding and legislation to combat the drug epidemic. Congress must permanently schedule illicit fentanyl, which is to blame for more than 75% of overdose deaths, and fund treatment centers in order to help our fellow West Virginians and Americans recover from substance use disorder that has taken far too many people already. The more than 100,000 Americans we tragically lost to an overdose, their families and all Americans deserve significant action from Congress now, and I urge my colleagues to join me in passing vital legislation to combat this horrible epidemic.”
Combatting the drug epidemic in West Virginia continues to be one of Senator Manchin’s top priorities. Earlier this year, Senator Manchin reintroduced nine bills to address the growing drug epidemic and continues to advocate for funding and resources to support prevention and treatment services in the Mountain State. 
In February, Senators Manchin and Portman reintroduced the bipartisan Federal Initiative to Guarantee Health by Targeting (FIGHT) Fentanyl Act to permanently schedule illicitly manufactured and deadly fentanyl related substances. With nearly 3/4 of the overdose deaths in 2020 related to opioids or synthetic opioids, mainly fentanyl, this permanent scheduling extension is vital.
In May, Senators Manchin and Romney introduced the bipartisan Life Budgeting for Opioid Addiction Treatment (LifeBOAT) Act, which would establish a stewardship fee to provide and expand access to substance use treatment. This bill would provide a consistent funding source for support and treatment for those suffering from substance use disorder.

A timeline of Senator Manchin’s efforts to address the opioid crisis can be found here.