August 7, 2015
Contact: Dan Weber
Edwards Hosts Roundtable on Drug Overdose in Maryland
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (MD-4) hosted a roundtable highlighting the impact heroin and other opioid-related overdoses are having on communities in the 4th Congressional District and throughout the state of Maryland.  Representatives from law enforcement, higher education institutions, nonprofit organizations, and federal, state, and local government participated in the discussion.
“Today was incredibly insightful as stakeholders shared their experiences from fighting this epidemic on the ground every day,” Edwards said.  “Hearing the challenges and actions being taken by law enforcement, educators, and public health officials broadened everyone’s understanding of the scope of this issue.   We know naloxone is effective in reversing opioid-related overdose, and it is important that we increase its availability.  But it is one piece of the puzzle.  We must also work together to educate the public that addiction is a disease, ensure necessary resources are available, gather more comprehensive data to identify trends and locations, and reduce the cost of naloxone.   With such a coordinated effort, I am confident that someday overdoses can be eliminated from our communities.  I thank everyone for their participation today, and look forward to continue working together in this effort.”
“We appreciate Congresswoman Donna Edwards’ leadership on the issue of heroin and opiate abuse in particular and drug abuse in general. This forum was important in bringing members of the Health, Education, and Law Enforcement disciplines together as we continue to explore this disease and how to prevent drug abuse and overdose.” – Melvin C. High, Sheriff, Prince George’s County.
Since 2009, Rep. Edwards has introduced the Stop Overdose Stat (S.O.S.) Act, H.R. 2850 in the 114th Congress, which would fill critical gaps in federal efforts to prevent opioid dependence and overdose. This bipartisan and bicameral legislation would provide federal support for expanding the awareness and use of naloxone, improving epidemiological surveillance of overdose occurrences, and establishing a coordinated federal plan of action.  
Dr. Melinda Campopiano, Branch Chief in the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment-Division of Pharmacologic Therapies, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, noted during her remarks: “Naloxone is the emergency antidote for opioid overdose. But let’s be clear: access to naloxone does not facilitate a person’s addiction.  Saving someone’s life facilitates their ability to recover from addiction.”
According to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, there were 1,039 overdose deaths in 2014, including 578 heroin-related deaths, which marks a 60% increase from 2010. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also highlight the rising impact overdose is having on women in particular, noting a 400% increase since 1999 of women dying from overdose.