Press Pulse

With Trudeau in Town, Lawmakers Call for Canada to Get Tough on Drugs

David Eldridge
Inside Sources
10 March 2016

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s three days in Washington are packed with glitzy dinners and VIP luncheons sandwiched around high-level meetings on climate change, trade, refugees and the global fight on terrorism.

That crowded agenda ought to include America’s growing opioid crisis — and Canada’s complicity in the problem — a bipartisan group of lawmakers made clear this week.

House and Senate members penned a letter calling for stronger action from the Trudeau administration on the flood of Canadian painkillers ravaging American communities.

The letter calling out Canadian foot-dragging on opioid abuse comes as a $725 million spending package to beef up prescription drug monitoring and improve treatment for addicts is expected to clear the Senate on Thursday — the same day Trudeau joins President Barack Obama at the White House for talks, a press conference and an official state dinner.

New Hampshire Sens. Kelly Ayotte, a Republican, and Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat; Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.; and Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., signed the letter, as did House Republicans Frank Guinta of New Hampshire, North Dakota’s Kevin Cramer, Michigan’s Bill Huizenga and New York’s Elise Stefanik, along with House Democrats Peter Welch of Vermont, New Hampshire’s Ann McLane Kuster, Washington’s Suzan DelBene and New York’s Brian Higgins.

Lawmakers are asking the Trudeau administration to get serious about fighting prescription drug abuse in both countries by moving more quickly to limit the availability of non-abuse deterrent opioids, including oxycodone pain relievers.

The health crisis has taken on new political urgency in states like New Hampshire, Massachusetts and elsewhere in recent months as media coverage and warnings from federal and local officials have brought the scope of the problem to the fore. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 47,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2014, with more than half of those opioid-related. Opioid overdoses have tripled since 2000 and overdose is now the country’s leading cause of accidental death, ahead of motor vehicles and firearms.

“This is a life or death issue,” said Ayotte, speaking on the drug abuse crisis during the GOP’s weekly address over the weekend. “These are not just numbers. Behind every statistic and behind every headline is a life that has been lost”…