This week, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee came to Johns Hopkins University to hold hearings on the opioid crisis at the behest of the committee’s ranking Democrat, Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings. The staff of OSI-Baltimore’s Drug Addiction Treatment program briefed Cummings’ staff in advance of the hearing.
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, chair of the president’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, testified on the commission’s recently released report, which identified three approaches to confronting the crisis: curbing the flow of fentanyl and carfentanyl into the country, educating the medical community about the dangers of opioids, and increasing access to treatment.
On the campaign trail in 2015 during his run to become the Republican nominee for President, Gov. Christie surprised many observers by backing a public health approach to the opioid crisis.
Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Leanna Wen also testified at the hearing, suggesting the government should respond to the opioid crisis the same way in responds to a natural disaster.
“The opioid epidemic can be solved if we commit a similar level of resources with urgency, compassion and action,” she said. “I urge Congress to put the full weight of the federal government to stem the tide of this epidemic, and to join those of us on the front lines to commit the necessary resources to save lives and reclaim our communities.”