Health and Fitness

Senator Kirk Applauds 26.3 Million Fewer Opioid Prescriptions

Opiod Rx is the Gateway to Heroin Addiction

WASHINGTON –(ENEWSPF)–January 29, 2016.  U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today applauded the news that 1.1 billion fewer opioid tablets, 26.3 million opioid prescriptions, were dispensed in the one year period since hydrocodone products were rescheduled. The study was reported this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association following the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) decision to move hydrocodone drugs from Schedule III to Schedule II. The rescheduling of these drugs reflects their high potential for addiction and abuse.

“Hydrocodone is one of the most powerful, addictive painkillers on the market,” said Senator Kirk. “Rescheduling this substance has led to fewer opioid prescriptions, in turn preventing prescription drug and heroin abuse while saving lives in Illinois.”

Research shows that those who first abuse prescription drugs have a greater risk of trying and subsequently becoming addicted to heroin.


Senator Kirk along with Senator Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) introduced the bipartisan Safe Prescribing Act, S. 621, legislation that would reclassify hydrocodone products from Schedule III to Schedule II. The Senators also sent letters to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urging them to recommend to DEA immediate rescheduling of drugs containing hydrocodone to help combat the prescription drug epidemic.

Senator Kirk and a bipartisan group of senators also recently wrote a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell calling for increased access to medication-assisted therapy (MAT) to treat opioid abuse. One month later, HHS complied with their request and raised the number of patients physicians can treat using this proven method. MAT typically involves a combination of medications, including buprenorphine, and therapy to treat opioid abuse while curbing the side effects of withdrawal.

In August, Senator Kirk met with the Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli to discuss heroin and prescription drug abuse, and the suburban success of naloxone and increasing access to this medication was discussed.

Last month, Senator Kirk worked with his colleagues on the Health, Education, Labor, Pensions and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee to include $123 million, an increase of $91 million or 284 percent, for programs targeted to combat opioid abuse at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Senator Kirk also works closely with his Anti-Heroin Task Force to tackle the ongoing problem of heroin and opioid addiction and abuse in the Chicago suburbs.