We’ve been following the opioid crisis extensively over the years at KELOLAND, but this last week it has hit home for all of us who work here.
As we’ve been reporting KELOLAND’s Angela Kennecke lost her 21-year-old daughter Emily to fentanyl poisoning in May.
Strong synthetic opioids like fentanyl are often mixed into the black-market supplies of heroin, cocaine, meth and anti-anxiety medications.
Dealers use fentanyl because it’s cheap and easy to get through the mail.
Out of the 13 deaths in the Sioux Falls area this year already, most were fentanyl related.
The US Senate is set to vote this week on a massive bill aimed at stemming the opioid crisis and one part it directly relates with Emily’s cause of death.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) says the silver bullet to fighting the opioid crisis is a new, non addictive medication to treat pain.
“Within a decade, maybe even five years we should have new treatments,” Alexander said.
Alexander wants to jumpstart those efforts. He’s championing a provision in a sweeping opioid bill to advance cutting edge research at the national institutes of health.
“There’s a bipartisan sense of urgency here,” Alexander said.
The Opioid Response Act of 2018 also aims to reduce over prescribing. It allows the FDA to require drug manufacturers to sell opioids in packets with as few as three pills.
The CDC says opioid overdoses killed an estimated 72,000 Americans last year. Illegal fentanyl imported from overseas is becoming an increasingly deadly part of the problem.
It’s another issue the Senate bill hopes to tackle.
“It makes it easier for the United States Postal Service to stop fentanyl, especially fentanyl being mailed in here from China,” Alexander said.
The bill is expected to pass the Senate this week. Alexander says it will then be merged with an opioid bill already passed by the House.
House members like Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX) are also eager to take action.
“I think its just a matter of time before Texas will be impacted in a very destructive way,” McCaul said.
Lawmakers from both sides of the Capitol are hoping to have legislation on the president’s desk before the November elections.