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Indiana Legislators Already Working on Some Recommendations From Opioid Panel

Christie-chaired commission called for tougher fentanyl penalties, more training for prescribers

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - A presidential commission has released its ideas for ways to roll back the opioid epidemic. The next question is how to carry them out.

Indiana Congresswoman Susan Brooks (R-5th) notes the panel's 56 recommendations include steps the states can take, things the White House can do on its own, and items requiring congressional action. She says one of the big questions to be answered is how to pay for the steps which will cost money.

The very first recommendation in the panel's 131-page report calls for federal block grants to the states to fund their anti-drug efforts.

A handful of recommendations from the commission chaired by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie parallel proposals from Indiana legislators. Congressman Larry Bucshon (R-8th) says he's glad the panel called for removing barriers to the use of drugs like methadone to help people kick drug addiction. He helped write a law calling for doctors to be trained in those options. Brooks says she was already drafting a bill that would require prescribers to go through a training program on opioids and pain management.

And Indianapolis State Senator Jim Merritt (R) plans to introduce a bill in January calling for harsher state penalties for fentanyl than other drugs. The commission noted approvingly that West Virginia and New Hampshire have already taken that step. It says fentanyl is a greater threat because its use is rising rapidly, and it's cheaper than heroin. Drug dealers and Internet sellers have taken advantage of its low cost to use it to manufacture counterfeit versions of pain medications like oxycodone.

(Photo: backpack555/Thinkstock)

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