In advance of hearings on strengthening hydrocodone regulation, Congressman Brian Higgins wrote a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asking that the personal experiences of those testifying, including that of Western New Yorker, Avi Israel, be taken into serious consideration as policy considerations are made.
Higgins writes in his letter, in part: “Time after time we have heard horrific stories where people die due to their addiction. In too many of these cases, the addiction and abuse was avoidable. To provide proper safeguards to the public – in particularly our children – the federal government must do everything it can to prevent over prescription, addiction, and abuse of these drugs.”
“We are here not restrict access to medicine that is needed, we instead want to stop the abuse and over prescription of these drugs in the health care community,” said Avi Israel, who founded “Save the Michaels of the World” following his son’ tragic passing following a struggle with a prescription painkiller addiction. “We need to educate doctors on the dangers of hydrocodone. This forum provides us the opportunity to show why these drugs need to be watched more closely.”
The FDA hearings are being held in response to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) request for increased regulation of combined hydrocodone drugs in response to their demonstrated potential for addiction. In July of this past year, as planning for these hearings was underway, Higgins wrote
to the FDA asking that the hearings include significant public participation so that Save the Michaels of the World could have the opportunity to testify.
According to a report
published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) earlier this year, emergency department visits related to hydrocodone totaled 115,739 in 2010, nearly doubling since 2004.
Congressman Higgins has worked closely with Save the Michaels of the World and other advocates to combat the prescription drug abuse epidemic, including convening a meeting
last year with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and SAMHSA to discuss the federal government’s role in attacking prescription drug abuse. Congressman Higgins has also worked with Congressman Michael Grimm (NY-11), New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman & State Senator Tim Kennedy to advocate
for the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing (I-STOP) program, which was passed
into law in New York State in July 2012.