WASHINGTON – U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-RI), who serves on the
Bipartisan Heroin Task Force, is leading the effort in Congress to expand the use of
Naloxone by law enforcement agencies.

“In 2015, nearly two-thirds of drug overdose deaths -or 33,091 of 52,404
deaths-involved prescription and synthetic opioids like Vicodin, OxyContin, heroin
and fentanyl,” Cicilline wrote in a letter to the House Appropriations Committee’s
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies. “Equipping those
who are likely to witness an overdose with Naloxone is critical to help saving
lives, and, law enforcement officers are often one of the first people on the scene
during an emergency.”

According to the Rhode Island Department of
Health, at least 31 Rhode Islanders
have died of a drug overdose so far in 2017. Last year, 336 Rhode Islanders died of
overdoses. When administered early, the antidote Naloxone can reverse the effects of
an opiate overdose.

The full text of Cicilline’s letter is embedded below.

Dear Chairman Culberson and Ranking Member Serrano:

As you work to develop the FY18 Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) Appropriations bill,
we request that you include sufficient funding to help equip law enforcement
agencies with Naloxone and provide education on its use.

As you know, our country is in the midst of a staggering drug overdose epidemic that
is devastating families and communities across the country. In 2015, nearly
two-thirds of drug overdose deaths -or 33,091 of 52,404 deaths-involved prescription
and synthetic opioids like Vicodin, OxyContin, heroin and fentanyl. According to
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), since 1999, the rate of
overdose deaths involving opioids has nearly quadrupled. Opioids cause death by
slowing and eventually stopping a person’s breathing, but there is a window for a
lifesaving intervention. When administered within this window, the drug Naloxone
can restore normal breathing within minutes, and may prevent brain injury and death.

In March 2015, then Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced
an initiative targeting three priority areas to address growing opioid abuse. Along
with improving prescribing practices and expanding access to substance abuse
treatment, Secretary Burwell identified expanding the distribution of the Naloxone
as one of these priorities.

In particular, equipping those who are likely to witness an overdose with Naloxone
is critical to help saving lives, and, law enforcement officers are often one of the
first people on the scene during an emergency. Recognizing the importance of being
able to provide emergency medical services, state law enforcement agencies have
implemented Naloxone programs to provide officers with the knowledge and the tools
to reverse overdoses.

To keep these programs running, law enforcement agencies may rely on state and
federal funding to afford the cost of Naloxone kits-which range from $22 to $60 per
kit-and the costs of training officers on how to administer Naloxone.

Therefore, we urge you to consider funding to expand access to Naloxone to law
enforcement agencies so they are better equipped with the ability to save lives and
to combat the drug overdose crisis in their communities. We respectfully request
full funding for grants as authorized by Public Law 114-198 Section 201(a)(3) to
provide training and resources for first responders on carrying and administering an
opioid overdose reversal drug or device approved or cleared by the Food and Drug
Administration, and purchasing such a drug or device for first responders who have
received such training to so carry and administer.

Thank you for your work on the FY18 Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill,
and for your consideration of our requests.

Sincerely,