BEND, OR -- Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR) met with local healthcare and law enforcement officials Tuesday, to discuss the ongoing opioid epidemic. He says finding ways to combat widespread addiction has to include determining how it started, "In a bipartisan effort, we sent letters to three of the major opioid pharmaceutical companies demanding to know what they knew, when they knew it, and what they did about it. This is part of our ongoing investigation. We're now focused on those who made the drugs, did they know they were addictive?"
In Bend on Tuesday, Walden was joined by Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who says the FDA is trying to address new addicts, whose problems often start in the doctor's office, "Make sure that when prescriptions are written, they're written for a legitimate medical purpose, the patient really needed an opioid, duration of use comports with the clinical rationale for writing the prescription in the first place." He believes his agency is uniquely qualified to help combat the crisis with a three-pronged approach, "One is: efforts that we're doing to try and cut the rate of new addiction; two is: efforts that we have underway to improve the technology both for treatment of pain as well as the treatment of addiction; and three is: efforts we have underway to improve our enforcement footprint."
Rep. Walden chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has been working with the FDA and other agencies on the issue, "We've passed 57 bills, 53 were unanimous. The others were a little more controversial, but bipartisan and eventually, big votes." The House voted to combine the bills into one, for ease; it's currently with the Senate and is expected to be debated this month.
Photos: (top) Congressman Walden and FDA Commissioner Gottlieb talk with officials from Mosaic Medical.
(above right) Talking with Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson, Bend Police Chief Jim Porter and County Commissioner Tammy Baney.