October 26, 2017


Senator Manchin was at the White House when President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health crisis

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) applauds President Trump for taking important steps to fight the opioid epidemic, including declaring a public health crisis to make federal resources more available and flexible for states. As part of the public health emergency, President Trump announced he is expanding telemedicine, improving childhood education about substance use, helping people recovering from substance use disorder find jobs, and increasing access to treatment beds.

 “I applaud President Trump for finally taking these steps that will help in our fight against the opioid epidemic. This public health crisis declaration will give states like West Virginia the flexibility to enlist help from federal agencies and resources to combat this epidemic. At the declaration announcement, I was pleased to hear that Zohydro, a drug that I have been trying to get off the shelves since 2013, is being pulled from the market. Because of this painkiller’s high potential for misuse and abuse, Zohydro poses a severely dangerous threat to our communities in West Virginia and across our country and I’m glad this horrible decision by the FDA will finally be made right. I have long pushed for many of the actions that the President is taking, including expanding access to treatment options and educating our children on the risks associated with drugs, especially opioids, in order to make long-term improvements,” Senator Manchin said.

“West Virginia faces unique challenges in the crisis, especially the rural areas in our state. The expansion of telemedicine to these areas is a game changer and will allow people struggling with substance use disorder the ability to receive opioid treatment prescriptions without seeing a doctor, which is a huge hurdle for many West Virginians. A large part of recovery and becoming a contributing member of society is finding meaningful employment and President Trump’s expansion of the Dislocated Workers Grants will help people who are struggling to find work because of their disorder, which works with the goals of my Clean Start Act. This public health declaration is a great step and I look forward to working with the President to put real funding behind these changes.”

Below is a list of efforts led by Senator Manchin that were highlighted at the White House.

Senator Manchin has championed the removal of Zohydro since 2013. In 2014 Senator Manchin introduced legislation to withdraw the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of Zohydro ER, a controversial painkiller.  The FDA approved the powerful and highly addictive opioid drug over the objection of its own Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee, which voted 11-2 against allowing the painkiller to advance in the approval process.

Educating Students Facing Substance Abuse – Senator Manchin successfully pushed for a provision in the Every Student Succeeds Act to allow schools and local communities to use federal education funds to help students who are facing substance abuse in the home. He also successfully included language in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which has strengthened consumer education about the dangers of opioid abuse.

The Clean Start Act (S. 511): This bill will allow people with a federal felony or misdemeanor conviction for a past nonviolent crime committed as a result of drug addiction an opportunity to have their criminal record sealed after undergoing comprehensive addiction treatment and demonstrating a commitment to their recovery. Since many employers are unlikely to consider a job applicant with a criminal record, the impact of a past conviction weighs upon these former addicts long after they have served their time. This bill will give people who wish to reform their lives a clean start.

The Medicaid CARE Act: Senator Manchin joined fellow Senators in introducing the Medicaid CARE Act, which would increase access to addiction treatment services by updating the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD) Exclusion, an outdated policy that limits Medicaid coverage for substance abuse treatment to facilities with fewer than 16 beds. The Medicaid CARE Act would lift this barrier by expanding Medicaid coverage to pay for up to 40 treatment beds at larger substance abuse treatment facilities.

Senator Manchin sent a letter to CVS Health, thanking them for their proactive changes to prescribing guidelines in an effort to address the opioid epidemic and highlighting the work that still needs to be done by all stakeholders.