Press Releases

Rep. Wexton’s EFFORT Act to Expand Opioid Addiction Research Headed to President’s Desk

Washington, DC -- Today, the Expanding Findings for Federal Opioid Research and Treatment (EFFORT) Act was passed by the House of Representatives, after being amended and passed by the Senate last week. The EFFORT Act is bipartisan legislation authored by Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) and co-sponsored by Congressman Jim Baird (R-IN). The Senate companion bill was carried by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Cory Gardner (R-CO), and now goes to the President for his signature.

“While much of our attention is focused on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid addiction crisis continues to ravage our communities,” said Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton. “In fact, the crisis has gotten worse. Virginia is seeing a record number of fatal overdoses this year as isolation and anxiety brought on by COVID add new challenges for those who are in recovery. We need to vigorously study and treat addiction like the disease that it is. Once this bill is signed into law, scientists and researchers can provide us with greater resources to end this crisis.”

“As our nation confronts the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we also continue to grapple with an opioid epidemic that is increasingly devastating families in Delaware and across the country,” said Senator Chris Coons. “The recent record-breaking success with a vaccine for COVID-19 shows that when the federal government invests in research and partners with leading minds in all sectors we can do amazing things. This bill would put our collective resources and know-how to work deepening our understanding of opioid addiction and finding tools and treatments to end this crisis. I’m proud that it will be signed into law.”

“We have lost hundreds of lives here in the Northern Shenandoah Valley to the opioid epidemic. The effects of this public health crisis have been seen in the number of children in foster care, babies born substance exposed, and grandparents now raising their grandchildren. The Northern Shenandoah Valley Substance Abuse Coalition supports the EFFORT Act and is proud to see it pass through the House and Senate because research will help to decrease preventable deaths caused by opioid overdoses and will drive better treatment approaches,” said Lauren Cummings, executive director of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Substance Abuse Coalition.

The EFFORT Act expands research into the prevention and treatment of opioid addiction, seeking to promote collaboration and interdisciplinary efforts and close existing gaps in research. The bill directs the National Science Foundation (NSF), in consultation with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to support research that will allow for further understanding of the science of opioid addiction.

2020 is on track to be the worst year by far for fatal drug overdose deaths in Virginia. Overdoses have spiked during the pandemic, and the Commonwealth is on track to surpass 2,000 overdose deaths this year after setting a record last year with 1,626 lives lost.

Congresswoman Wexton is a founding member of the bipartisan Freshmen Working Group on Addiction with Representative David Trone (D-MD) and has been a strong advocate for addiction prevention and recovery efforts since her time in the Virginia state Senate where she served on the Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee. 

The full text of the EFFORT Act can be found here.