WASHINGTON, D.C. – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge participated in a bill signing ceremony at the White House on Wednesday.
It was in the East Room where President Donald J. Trump signed legislation to continue the federal government’s commitment to combating the opioid crisis.
“I was honored to join President Trump and represent Arkansans as he signed legislation that will directly help individuals impacted by opioid addiction,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Fighting the opioid crisis is a priority of mine as Attorney General. My office takes a multi-faceted approach to combating this devastating epidemic by focusing on prevention, treatment, and litigation.”
In October 2017, President Trump declared the opioid crisis a national Public Health Emergency. According to the CDC, 72,000 people died from an opioid overdose last year.
The SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act is the largest legislative effort in history to address the opioid crisis. It aims to do so in a number of ways, which include fast tracking research for non-addictive pain killers and opening up funding for recovery centers
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The legislation received bipartisan support.
“It shows the volume of this epidemic when you have that many Republicans, Democrats getting together, setting aside their tensions, setting aside the visceral talk we have seen lately in the nation’s capital and saying ‘we must address this crisis,’” said Rutledge.
Rutledge has taken an aggressive approach to protect Arkansans and combat the epidemic by suing Johnson & Johnson, Purdue Pharma and Endo, opioid manufacturers who created the crisis in Arkansas for violations of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Arkansas Medicaid Fraud False Claims Act.
Rutledge also partners with a number of agencies in hosting the Arkansas Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Summit. The summit is a free training and educational opportunity for law enforcement officers, medical professionals, pharmacists and educators. The seventh annual Summit is scheduled for Nov. 1 in Hot Springs with more than 1,000 already registered.
Each year, Rutledge partners with federal and state agencies for the biannual National Take Back Day, coming up Oct. 27 at various locations throughout the State. Since 2016, more than 600 pounds of prescription drugs were collected at Attorney General Mobile Offices across Arkansas.
Prescription for Life features a digital platform to help high school students in the State understand the dangers of prescription drug misuse and how to prevent abuse. The self-paced modular course uses video, animations, simulations and interactivity to deliver a personalized, self-guided learning experience. The real-life simulations demonstrate the impact misuse can have on students’ physical and mental health, relationships and future goals while the scenario-based exercises help students practice how to support other students in their choices regarding the safe use of prescription drugs. The course is aligned with the Centers for Disease Control’s National Health Education Standards and State academic standards.
In August, Rutledge announced a new initiative, #Rx4LifeStories, to allow Arkansans to talk about how the nation’s opioid epidemic has impacted their lives and the lives of their families.
Congressman French Hill (AR-02), issued the following statement after the president signed the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, a comprehensive bill to fight the opioid epidemic, into law:
“We’ve been working hard to combat the current prescription drug and opioid crisis. Today marks successful progress with the president signing into law this comprehensive opioid bill that includes nearly 60 individual pieces of legislation we passed in the House this year with my support. With overdoses now killing as many Americans every 10 months as in the 15 years of the Vietnam War, we are taking significant steps to provide Arkansans and Americans with the help they need.
He continued with, “This comprehensive bill also expands access to addiction treatment and prevention programs and enhances law enforcement efforts to curtail the trafficking of illegal drugs. I’m particularly pleased that this measure includes similar provisions from my bill I introduced earlier this year, H.R. 5459, the Ending the Fentanyl Crisis Act, which targets the flow of fentanyl into our country through the mail system from China and Mexico. Through careful legislation and community engagement in central Arkansas and across the country, we can help save the lives of our loved ones and continue to fight this terrible epidemic.”