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Manchin: 93,331 Overdose Deaths Last Year Show Need For Action Now

By Staff | Jul 21, 2021

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) called for action to address the drastic increase in overdose deaths in the last year. In 2020, 93,331 Americans died from drug overdoses, a nearly 30% increase from the 70,980 overdose deaths in 2019. 1,377 West Virginians died from drug related overdoses in 2020, a 49.3% increase from 2019. Of the 93,331 overdose deaths, 69,710 of those deaths, or nearly 75%, involved an opioid or synthetic opioid, mainly illicit fentanyl.

“The loss of 93,331 Americans and 1,377 West Virginians to drug overdoses in the last year is absolutely heartbreaking. Today’s tragic news only underscores the dire need for meaningful legislation to address the crisis facing our nation. While the COVID-19 pandemic certainly had an impact on the drastic increase in overdose deaths, we cannot ignore this epidemic and hope it will go away as we continue to vaccinate Americans and bring an end to this pandemic,” said Senator Manchin. “We must provide funding for substance use treatment centers and permanently schedule illicit fentanyl, which was involved in the majority of all overdose deaths last year. It is past time we took action, and I urge my colleagues to step up to the plate and help combat this terrible epidemic.”

In February, Senators Manchin and Portman reintroduced the bipartisan Federal Initiative to Guarantee Health by Targeting (FIGHT) Fentanyl Act to permanently schedule illicitly manufactured and deadly fentanyl related substances. With nearly 3/4 of the overdose deaths in 2020 related to opioids or synthetic opioids, mainly fentanyl, this permanent scheduling extension is vital.

In May, Senators Manchin and Romney introduced the bipartisan Life Budgeting for Opioid Addiction Treatment (LifeBOAT) Act, which would establish a stewardship fee to provide and expand access to substance use treatment. This bill would provide a consistent funding source for support and treatment for those suffering from substance use disorder.