May 24, 2012

Manchin Thanks Senate Colleagues for Unanimous Support of Bill to Help Fight Prescription Drug Abuse

Shares stories of West Virginians who want help for their communities

**Video, Audio Available**

Manchin’s bill to reclassify all hydrocodone substances with Schedule II status passed the Senate last night

Washington, D.C.— With prescription drug abuse on the rise across the country, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) today thanked his colleagues in the Senate for coming together across party lines to fight addiction and abuse by unanimously supporting his measure to make it harder to get addictive painkillers. 

The Senator’s bipartisan amendment to the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act would reclassify drugs containing hydrocodone as Schedule II substances. As a result, patients would need an original prescription for refills, pills would be stored and transported more securely, and traffickers would be subject to increased fines and penalties. Hydrocodone, a highly-addictive substance, is found in drugs like Vicodin and Lortab. The amendment was cosponsored by Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) 

 “For months now, I’ve been going out and listening to the stories of so many people in my state – law enforcement, business owners, school teachers, pastors, and especially the children who ask for help getting their parents off the stuff. So I worked with all of them to offer an amendment to this bill that would make it harder for anyone to abuse prescription drugs. That bipartisan amendment was submitted on behalf of the countless West Virginians and Americans whose lives have been cut short by drug abuse and the families who are picking up the pieces, and it is on their behalf that I thank my colleagues in the Senate for passing it unanimously.” 

The Senator shared the stories he’s heard from substance abuse advocates in the state, and from students he met with at Oceana Middle School in Wyoming County. These middle-schoolers participated in a letter-writing campaign organized by the faith-based group “One Voice,” which works to help addicts and their families. 

“My town, Oceana, has an issue about drugs. I write this letter to you because I hope that you can do something about it. In 2006, my godmother died of an overdose. She was the only person I could talk to. Drugs make people act in bad ways and if something doesn’t happen about them then our town will be in worse shape,” Senator Manchin read from a letter. 

The drug abuse problem in Wyoming County is among the worst in West Virginia. In the past seven years, more than 120 people have died from drug overdoses in the county, including 41 in 2011 and 12 just this year. 

“I visited with these students in person. They want a better life for their parents, their siblings, their friends, their communities – and themselves. They are willing to fight, and they’re asking for our help.   

“The amendment that passed last night with unanimous bipartisan support is a good step toward reaching their dream, and I offer my heartfelt thanks to my colleagues on behalf of all the people in West Virginia who’ve been affected by prescription drug abuse. And I urge my colleagues in the House to support this measure and the President to sign it – for the good of all the 12-year old girls who are asking us to help get their daddies off this stuff.”  

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