The news that toxicology tests concluded Prince died from an accidental fentanyl overdose could spur Congress to reach a deal on legislation to combat the opioid crisis, The New York Times reports.
Last week the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office announced the toxicology results, but did not specify how the drug was taken, or if it was prescribed or illegally made, CNN reports. Fentanyl is an opioid legally prescribed for cancer treatment. It can be made illicitly, and is 25 to 50 times more potent than heroin.
Legislators in Washington are trying to come to an agreement on legislation that would address the national opioid crisis. Last month, the U.S. House overwhelmingly approved 18 bills aimed at addressing the nation’s opioid crisis.
The House bills will need to be reconciled with the Senate’s Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which passed in March. The Senate measure authorizes funds for various drug treatment and prevention programs for a wide range of people, including those in jail.
CARA expands prescription drug take-back programs and establishes monitoring to prevent over-prescribing of opioid painkillers. It would expand the availability of medication-assisted treatment, including in criminal justice settings, and would support treatment as an alternative to incarceration. The measure also calls for training and equipping first responders on the use of the opioid overdose-reversal drug naloxone.
Lawmakers hope to send President Obama a compromise bill before Congress begins its summer recess in July.
Both Republicans and Democrats have an election-year incentive to make progress on the opioid epidemic, which is impacting cities and towns across the country. House Democrats had offered an amendment to provide $600 million in emergency funding for the opioid bills. Republicans blocked the bill, saying funding will come when Congress passes its 2017 spending bills for federal agencies.