Opioid crisis: U.S. Senate sends President Trump bill to fight drug war

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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This edition of WHIO Reports will focus on the opioid problem in the Miami Valley and explore solutions available to help people WHIO Reports Path Forward for August 5, 2018.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Includes a measure sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman to make it more difficult to send fentanyl into the U.S. through the mail

The Senate overwhelmingly gave final approval to a bill Wednesday aimed at reducing the number of people who die every from opioid addiction, sending the measure to President Donald Trump for his signature.

By a vote of 98-1, the Senate passed the bill which includes a measure sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, that would make it more difficult to send fentanyl into the United States through the U.S. mail system.

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Both Portman and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, made the bill a major priority to help combat a national crisis. Just last year, nearly 30,000 people died because of addiction to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.

The House last week approved the same bill by a vote of 393-to-3. In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Brown predicted Trump “will sign it right away.”

“This legislation is a turning point,” Portman said in a floor speech shortly before the vote. “It is a glimmer of hope,” adding it will end the “loophole that you can send this deadly poison” of fentanyl through the mail.

In a floor speech Tuesday evening, Brown said there “isn’t a community in Ohio that hasn’t been touched by the addiction epidemic, and we are doing all we can to fight it.”

The bill includes a section drafted by Portman that would require all packages being shipped into the U.S. from overseas to include advanced electronic data on exactly what’s inside the package and who is shipping it.

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Senate Republican candidate Jim Renacci, who is challenging Brown next month and is a House member from Wadsworth, voted for the same bill last week.

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The measure provides the U.S. Food and Drug Administration with the power to insist drug companies sell packages of opioids in smaller doses to discourage physicians from prescribing larger amounts.

In addition, the bill would allow Medicaid dollars to pay the costs of in-patient drug-abuse treatment.

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