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The White House
For Immediate Release

Readout of the National Heroin Task Force Meeting

Washington, D.C – On July 28, Mary Lou Leary, Deputy Director of State, Local, and Tribal Affairs for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania David Hickton co-chaired a meeting of the National Heroin Task Force. The task force heard from Sam Quinones, Author of Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic, and Dr. Yngvild K. Olsen, MD, MPH, and Medical Director of REACH Health Services.

Mr. Quinones discussed the rise of the heroin industry in Mexico and how drug traffickers operate within the United States. He detailed how drug trafficking organizations have exploited the U.S. prescription pain medication market in order to find suitable heroin markets.

Dr. Olsen followed with a discussion about the science of addiction and the necessity for a public health approach to the opioid epidemic. She stressed the importance of prevention, expanded access to treatment, and overdose response.

The National Heroin Task Force, which first convened in April of 2015, brings together law enforcement, public health officials, doctors, and educational experts to develop a coordinated response to our nation’s heroin epidemic. The Task Force is preparing a strategic plan that will be submitted to Congress and the President by the end of 2015.

The Administration’s 2011 Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan includes action in four major areas: prescriber education, prescription drug monitoring programs, drug disposal programs, and enforcement to address the nation’s opioid epidemic. In addition, the Administration is working to increase naloxone distribution and access to evidence based treatment for opioid use disorders. The President’s FY 2016 budget proposed critical investments to intensify these efforts, including $133 million in new funding.

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