Acting Director LaBelle: “These actions and this funding are just the start of the Biden Administration’s historic commitment to ensuring the Federal Government promotes evidence-based public health and public safety actions to address this epidemic amidst a changing drug environment”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, National Drug Control Policy Acting Director Regina LaBelle testified before the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control during a hearing entitled, “The Federal Response to the Drug Overdose Epidemic.” Acting Director LaBelle discussed the substantial actions taken by the Biden-Harris Administration to address addiction and the overdose epidemic. In light of provisional data reported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that estimates more than 93,000 people died of an overdose in 2020, LaBelle also discussed the importance of adapting to a drug environment that has evolved with new challenges.

During her opening testimony, Acting Director LaBelle said:

“Since President Biden took office, he’s made it clear that addressing addiction and the overdose epidemic is a significant priority for his administration. On the public safety side, he is focused on reducing the supply of drugs entering our county by strengthening interdiction, domestic law enforcement, and international partnerships. For example: we are working across the interagency to develop a solution on scheduling fentanyl-related substances. We are grateful that Congress extended the temporary scheduling earlier this year, as it’s given us an opportunity to develop a consensus approach to the issue. On the public health side, the President is focused on expanding access to the continuum of care for people with substance use disorders, and has already taken several actions: The Administration removed the X waiver for prescribing buprenorphine to 30 or fewer patients, making it easier for physicians and other medical practitioners to treat patients with opioid use disorder with the standard of care; We have allowed federal funds to be used for fentanyl test strips; And we have ended a decade-long moratorium on methadone vans, so treatment can be brought to underserved communities.…”

LaBelle continued, “In addition to the aggressive actions outlined above, the Biden-Harris administration has dedicated historic funding to addiction and overdoses… These actions and this funding are just the start of the Biden Administration’s historic commitment to ensuring the Federal Government promotes evidence-based public health and public safety actions to address this epidemic amidst a changing drug environment.”

To view Acting Director LaBelle’s full written statement, click here

To view the Caucus on International Narcotics Control hearing, click here.

To view the Biden-Harris Administration’s first-year drug priorities, click here.

To read more about the President Biden’s budget request, click here.

Since taking office, President Biden has identified addiction and the overdose epidemic as a public health priority in the United States. In its first-year drug policy priorities, the Biden-Harris Administration outlined a strategy that includes:

  • expanding access to evidence-based treatment;
  • advancing racial equity in our approach to drug policy;
  • enhancing evidence-based harm reduction efforts;
  • supporting evidence-based prevention efforts to reduce youth substance use;
  • reducing the supply of illicit substances;
  • advancing recovery-ready workplaces and expanding the addiction workforce; and
  • expanding access to recovery support services.

Advancing racial equity in our Nation’s drug policy includes identifying unmet needs in diverse communities, developing priorities for criminal justice reform, and identifying culturally competent, evidence-based practices for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color across the continuum of care including prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery services.

President Biden’s American Rescue Plan was a down payment on these priorities, investing nearly $4 billion in behavioral health and substance use disorder supports. The President’s FY22 budget request calls for $10.7 billion to support research, prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support services, with targeted investments to meet the needs of populations at greatest risk for overdose and substance use disorder.

The FY22 budget request also includes significant investments in reducing the supply of illicit substances. In particular, it includes important increases in interdiction efforts, which include air and maritime activities to seize drugs in transit and deter access to routes, enhancements of source nations’ ability to interdict drugs, and efforts along the United States border to interdict the flow of drugs. The FY22 request also continues to support efforts to strengthen source country programs that address drug trafficking and corruption, strengthen the rule of law and anti-corruption activities, promote human rights, and support development programs.

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