WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 501, the Poison Center Network Enhancement Act of 2019 yesterday,legislation authored by Congress Members Eliot Engel (D-NY), Susan W. Brooks (R-IN), Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) that will assist with potential poison exposures and help combat the national opioid epidemic.
Poison control centers are vital to preventing toxic exposure and poisoning injury and deaths, including opioid and other drug overdoses. This bill reauthorizes funding for the Poison Center Network, including their national toll-free number (800) 222-1222. It also clarifies that poison control centers can be called upon to assist with public health emergencies, responses, and preparedness; and requests that enhanced communications capabilities like texting be established.
“The opioid crisis has pervaded every community in Southwest Washington and across the nation; we have to attack the problem at every level to effectively reverse the epidemic of opioid-related deaths. With passage of this bipartisan bill, Congress is fortifying emergency response tools – our poison control centers – which help save countless lives across the country each day,” said Rep. Herrera Beutler.
“I am so pleased the House passed this important piece of bipartisan health care legislation so quickly. The Poison Control network is a valuable tool to help keep families safe and plays a vital role in combatting the ongoing opioid crisis. In Westchester County, 124 people died due to opioids in 2016. In the Bronx, more New Yorkers died of overdoses than in any other borough. Every step we can take as Members of Congress to help reduce overdose related deaths is a critical step. By supporting the nation’s poison control centers, which millions of Americans rely on every year, we are helping to keep Americans safe, and I thank my colleagues for their hard work in moving this legislation forward,” said Rep. Engel.
“There is no one-size-fits-all solution to put a stop to the deadly opioid crisis that is devastating Hoosiers and Americans across the country. However, this bill is a critical piece of the puzzle because it allows the national network of poison control centers to help people who are struggling with addiction by offering free, confidential and expert medical advice at all hours, every day of the year. Their data is used to identify hot spots for opioid abuse and misuse, and with this reauthorization, will be able to continue combating the opioid epidemic and save lives,” said Rep. Brooks.
“Our poison control centers play a vital role in the fight to combat the nation’s growing opioid epidemic. Not only do these centers help us identify communities at a heightened risk of opioid abuse, they also provide training and education programs on safe opioid prescribing practices. If we, as a country, are going to be serious about protecting the public from the dangers of opioid misuse, funding these centers is a must,” said Rep. DeGette.