Sen. Markey Holds Presser On Legislation To Address Growing Opioid Crisis

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey held a virtual meeting on Saturday to discuss plans to address the growing number of people dying from opioid addiction.

Markey said there were 2,104 drug overdose deaths in Massachusetts in 2020 -- up five percent from 2019. And among Black men, that number increased by 69 percent.

In April Markey joined with a group of senators, including Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, to introduce the STOP Fentanyl Act.

If passed, Markey said the legislation would expand access to substance abuse disorder treatment, enhance overdose prevention, and improve public health surveillance and education on the issue.

Markey also said he plans on reintroducing the Label Opioids Act, which would "require opioid medications to contain a clear warning label on the bottle about the potential of the drugs dependence, addiction or overdose."

In the meantime, $60 million is on the way to Massachusetts designated for addressing mental health and substance abuse issues as part of the Biden Administration's American Rescue Plan passed earlier this year.

"As Hippocrates, the father of medicine, once said, prevention is preferable to cure," Markey said. He added that the Covid-19 pandemic has shown people how the government can respond to a public health crisis.

"We can mobilize, educate, intervene, and invest on a scale that matches the urgency of the opioid crisis," he said. "We cannot stop substance abuse or dependence with a mask, but we can unmask the stigma of addiction."

WBZ NewsRadio's Suzanne Sausville (@WBZSausville) reports:

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Written by Rachel Armany

(Photo: Getty Images)

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