Brown says FDA should air public service announcements on opioids

Sen. Sherrod Brown on Monday called for a TV campaign on opioids similar to the anti-smoking commercials produced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2014.

In a speech before the Cleveland City Club, Brown, D-Ohio, did not outline any major new steps to combat opioid addiction, but rather called for a “comprehensive, coordinated, and sustained public health campaign’’ that would boost efforts to prevent addiction and treat those who are addicted.

The TV commercials would be just one part of that comprehensive plan. The anti-smoking commercials — labeled “The Real Cost” — were designed to discourage millions of Americans between ages 12 and 17 from smoking.

In remarks prepared for delivery, Brown said teenagers targeted by the FDA “campaign were 30 percent less likely to start smoking. Why? Because it was designed by experts, it was targeted, and it was tested,” he said.

“We know what works. And we should use that experience to develop a targeted and effective education campaign against opioids.”

Brown is seeking re-election to his third term at a time when opioid addiction in Ohio is a major political issue. U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, and Mike Gibbons, a Cleveland business man, are competing for the GOP nomination to face Brown.

Brittany Martinez, a Renacci spokeswoman, assailed the speech, saying “Brown has been ineffective in trying to find a solution to combat our nation’s devastating opioid crisis since he was sworn into Congress in the 1990s. On the contrary, Jim Renacci has made tackling this epidemic a priority during his short time in Congress,” she said.

Chris Schrimpf, a Gibbons spokesman, charged that Brown “has been in office for 40 years — including many years as this crisis worsened. It’s telling that he only developed this plan when it is time to face the voters again.”

In his address, Brown said there should be an examination of the types of painkillers that are being prescribed.

“Nobody is saying we should go back to the days when we ignored pain, but we need to have strategies to manage pain that take addiction into account,” he said.

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