Baltimore City Health Commissioner Commends Congress for Passing 21st Century Cures Act


Media Contacts:

Michelle Mendes: Office: (410) 396-7286, Cell: (443) 862-0891
Mona Rock: Office: (443) 984-2623, Cell: (410) 375-7763

BALTIMORE, Md. (December 7, 2016)—Today, Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen issued the following statement in response to Congress’ passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, which authorizes $1 billion over two years to address the opioid epidemic, in addition to funding for mental health research and treatment:

“I am pleased that Congress has taken the important step of passing legislation that authorizes substantial and desperately-needed funding to increase access to treatment for opioid addiction.

“Addiction is a disease – not a moral failing – and this bipartisan effort demonstrates an increased awareness of that fact. It also signals our growing understanding that mental health is just as important as physical well-being.

“In Baltimore, we are taking a public health approach to addressing addiction and mental health. Last year, I issued a blanket prescription for all 620,000 Baltimore City residents for naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug. Since then, we have trained nearly 17,000 people to administer this medication, and it has been used to save the lives of 531 individuals.

“Additionally, we are increasing efforts to support the well-being of young people and have trained more than a thousand front-line city workers to recognize and respond to the effects of trauma. We also recently announced funding that will support programs to increase services in Baltimore City Schools and neighborhoods in West Baltimore affected by the unrest in 2015 and years of trauma.

“This legislation – and the resources that it sets aside – is a commendable achievement. However, our work is not done. I call on Congress to appropriate the funding authorized in this legislation each year so those suffering from opioid addiction can get the treatment they need.

“I look forward to continuing to work with our federal partners to ensure that resources are made available and distributed directly to communities most in need.”

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