Press Releases

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today voted for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, a bill to address the nationwide opioid epidemic. California has seen a 16.5 percent increase in prescription opioid deaths over the past decade. Feinstein released the following statement:

“Opioid addiction is an epidemic in this country. Nearly 2 million Americans are addicted to opioids and 19,000 Americans overdosed and died in 2014. It’s long overdue for Congress to take action, and the bill we passed today is just a first step.

“This epidemic stems from a surge in the use of prescription drugs. It’s not a coincidence that prescription overdose deaths quadrupled during the same period that prescriptions quadrupled. In 2012, 259 million prescriptions for opioids were written, enough for 80 percent of all Americans to have a bottle of pills.

“Prescription drug abuse often leads to heroin use because these drugs affect the brain in the same manner. This problem is compounded because heroin is significantly cheaper.

“This crisis requires a comprehensive, national response. The bill passed today takes important steps to prevent and reduce prescription drug abuse and expand access to treatment, but it won’t solve the problem. We must do more, including requiring prescriber education and improving follow-up treatment. I’m also looking at whether we need to responsibly regulate initial opioid prescriptions to reduce the risk of misuse, addiction and diversion, while maintaining access for legitimate need.”

The bill authorizes programs to:

  • Ensure access to appropriate, evidence-based medical treatment;
  • Address local and emerging drug threats and trends;
  • Equip first-responders with life-saving tools, such as Naloxone, an opioid overdose-reversal drug; and
  • Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs to reduce overprescribing, doctor shopping, and ultimately, overdose deaths.

The bill also includes Feinstein’s Transnational Drug Trafficking Act, approved as an amendment by a 94-0 vote. The Transnational Drug Trafficking Act has passed the Senate unanimously on three previous occasions.

Feinstein added, “The federal government needs the authority to aggressively pursue transnational criminal organizations and drug kingpins to reduce the flow of illegal drugs into the United States from foreign countries.”

The Transnational Drug Trafficking Act would:

  • Establish penalties for drug trafficking activity when individuals have reasonable cause to believe that their illegal drugs will be trafficked into the United States;
  • Ensure current penalties apply to drug precursor producers from other countries that manufacture and ship chemicals, (including those used for methamphetamine), knowing that these chemicals will be used to make illegal drugs destined for the United States.