Ending the Overdose Crisis: Why Congress Should Invest in Overdose Prevention Interventions That Save Lives and Money

Washington, DC

B339 Rayburn HOB
Lunch provided

Drug overdose has become both a major public health crisis and a major issue for Congress. More people die from drug overdoses each year than car crashes. Whether from prescription pain relievers or illicit drugs, the tragic loss of human life can no longer be ignored.

While Congress has largely focused federal resources and attention on policing prescribing practices, a growing number of state and local health officials have implemented programs that equip caregivers, first responders, and other community members with the tools to care for people overdosing from opiate-based substances like Oxycontin, Percocet and heroin. Individuals trained by these programs learn how to recognize signs of an overdose and administer naloxone, the first line therapy used by emergency personnel to rapidly reverse an opiate-based overdose. These programs have been credited with saving more than 10,000 lives and have earned the attention of the FDA, which is holding a hearing on April 12th to examine ways to expand their reach.

Panelists will have just presented at this FDA hearing and will detail several models for community-based programs that target unique populations and discuss the importance of integrating these programs into federal response efforts.


  • Captain Michael Bartoszek, Director of the Pain Management Clinic at Womack Army Medical Center, Fort Bragg, North Carolina
  • Fred Wells Brason, II, President/CEO of Project Lazarus, a community opioid overdose prevention model in rural Wilkes County, North Carolina
  • Marilee Murphy Odendahl, advocate and mother who lost her son, Ian, in 2007 to a heroin overdose, Freeport, Illinois
  • Joanne Peterson, founder and Program Director of Learn to Cope, a support organization for parents and families in Massachusetts dealing with a loved one who struggles with drug addiction, Brockton, Mass.
  • Dr. Alex Walley, Medical Director for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Opioid Overdose Prevention Pilot Program and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Mass.
  • Grant Smith (Moderator), Federal Policy Coordinator, Office of National Affairs, Drug Policy Alliance, Washington, D.C.

To RSVP, please visit www.eventbrite.com/event/3137880485

Questions? Please contact Grant Smith, DPA Federal Policy Coordinator, at gsmith@drugpolicy.org