Responding to the significant increase in deaths due to overdose of illicit or prescription drugs, federal legislators have introduced a bill that would fund programs to prevent overdose death and require additional tracking of overdose deaths. If it becomes law, the Stop Overdose Stat Act (S.O.S Act) (HR 6311) would allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to grant funds to entities providing programs, such as first responder training, aimed to reduce overdose deaths. Specifically, public health agencies and certain community organizations could apply for grant funds to:
- Purchase and distribute the drug naloxone, used to treat overdose victims
- Educate physicians and pharmacists about overdose prevention and naloxone prescription
- Train first responders, such as law enforcement officials, on effective response to overdose victims
- Implement or enhance programs that provide overdose prevention, recognition, treatment, and response to individuals
The bill would also require CDC to track data on both fatal and nonfatal drug overdoses and to make the information available to the public via an Internet database. Funds would also be granted to state, local, and tribal governments to improve systems for tracking such data. Further, the Secretary of Health and Human Services would be required to establish a task force for developing a drug overdose reduction strategy, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) would be called upon to conduct research on the issue. Text of the bill emphasizes that “Opioid pain medications such as oxycodone and hydrocodone are involved in more than 40 percent of all drug poisoning deaths. Six times as many people died of an overdose from methadone prescribed to treat pain in 2009 than a decade before.” The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.