Sunday, August 5, 2012

Overdose Prevention Legislation Introduced in U.S. House of Representatives

On August 2, Maryland Democratic Congresswoman Donna Edwards introduced the "Stop Overdose Stat (SOS) Act" to the U.S. House with bipartisan cosponsorship. The bill is an expanded version of legislation that Edwards introduced but failed to pass in 2009. With any luck the increased attention to overdose at the federal level and greater bipartisan involvement in the drafting of the current bill (particularly with leadership from California Republican Mary Bono Mack) will get it the consideration it deserves.

The full text of the bill is available on GovTrack here. In its current form the bill would establish four important things at the federal level:

  • A grant program, to be administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), supporting overdose prevention work including naloxone distribution. Government public health agencies and community-based organizations would be eligible. 
  • An overdose surveillance system whereby CDC would aggregate and analyze overdose data from local, state and federal government agencies and private sources. Such data could potentially fill gaps in information and provide a consistent way of spotting national trends that can help direct resources and programming. Crucially, the bill would also direct CDC to provide surveillance technical assistance to local and state agencies, which could spur more detailed and accurate reporting.
  • Development of a national plan to reduce overdose mortality, to be submitted to Congress by the Secretary for Health and Human Services no later than 180 days after the law is enacted. 
  • New or expanded research grants on overdose through the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which would include a review of current research funding and grants to evaluate existing or trial interventions.

The Drug Policy Alliance has a few more details in their press release. All in all, the bill is an exciting development and just the fact of its existence helps keep momentum going in the right direction with the Feds. OPA encourages American readers to thank their congressional representative if they co-sponsored the bill (there's a list here), and others to call their rep and encourage them to support it.


  1. Very exciting!! When can we expect the next stage(s) of development?

  2. Currently, the bill has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce (membership here: Basically, the committee will (hopefully) consider the legislation and decide, through the chair, to submit it to the House for debate and a vote. So now would likely be a good time to voice support to the chair of the Committee (Fred Upton, R-MI), and the ranking minority member (Henry Waxman, D-CA). I'm not sure which subcommittee will deal with the bill -- Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) is one of bill's authors and chairs the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection. Joseph Pitts (R-PA) chairs the Subcommittee on Health.