Murkowski Announces the Department of Defense Overdose Data Act

Bipartisan, bicameral legislation would require DOD to track, publish overdose data for service members and their families while expanding access to treatment, prevention resources

Washington, D.C. –Today, Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), alongside Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Representatives Seth Moulton (MA-06) and Nancy Mace (SC-01), led their colleagues in announcing the introduction of the?Department of Defense Overdose Data (DOD) Act,?bipartisan and bicameral?legislation?to address the impacts of the opioid epidemic among members of the U.S. military and their family. The legislation would require the Department of Defense to provide an annual public report outlining fatal and non-fatal overdoses among service members and military families, address barriers to care for substance use disorder (SUD), and expand access to overdose prevention tools like naloxone, a nasal spray capable of reversing a fatal opioid overdose, and fentanyl test strips. 


Bill Text (PDF) 

 “Tragically, the impacts of fentanyl and the opioid crisis are felt across the country, including among the military community. Fully understanding the extent of this epidemic is important to how we approach the solutions, including how we provide support for military members struggling with substance misuse,”said Senator Murkowski.“I’ve long supported improving access to overdose prevention tools like naloxone, and this bipartisan effort to collect strong data will help improve efforts to address the opioid crisis, ultimately saving lives.” 

“The opioid epidemic is reaching every community across?our country, including military bases,”?said Senator Markey.?“One service member whose life is lost because they couldn’t get the help they need is unacceptable, yet in recent years, hundreds of service members have suffered a fatal overdose, and thousands more nearly did. The information we received from the Department of Defense is a call to action to address this epidemic’s impact on service members and their families and to institute systemic reform to prevent overdose, improve access to treatment, and reduce the stigma of asking for help.” 
“The statistics uncovered by Senator Markey’s investigation – 15,000 active-duty overdose deaths or near-deaths between 2017-2021 – are extremely alarming. This is not only a tragedy for those individuals and their families, it is an institutional failure and a threat to our national defense,” said Congressman Moulton.“We need more data, more accountability, and a plan for stopping so many of these preventable deaths from happening in the future. This legislation would require critical reporting that will help destigmatize mental health in the military and inform solutions for decreasing overdoes and addiction rates.” 
“The substance use crisis is devastating communities across the country, and it's more important than ever that we take action to tackle this epidemic head-on, including by doing everything we can to protect our service members,”said Senator Warren.?"I'm glad to partner with my colleagues to introduce this bipartisan legislation to expand access to treatment and prevention services for service members and require the Department of Defense to make its overdose data publicly available” 
“Drug overdose among servicemembers is a serious problem that needs more attention – the number of fentanyl overdoses doubled from 2017 to 2021,”?said Senator Braun.?"This bill will help shed more light on this issue and find solutions.” 
“As the daughter of an Army General, we understand the?Department of Defense Overdose Data (DOD) Act?is a crucial step towards addressing the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic within our armed forces,”?said Congresswoman Mace.?“We owe it to those who have put their lives on the line for our country to better understand the scope of the problem and implement effective solutions. Our military personnel and their loved ones make immense sacrifices for our nation, and it is our duty to ensure their well-being and access to necessary care.” 
Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Angus King (I-Maine) joined Senators Markey, Murkowski, Warren, and Braun as cosponsors. 
Specifically, the?DOD Act?would require the Department of Defense to: 

  • Report annually on service member and military family overdoses and related data—including demographic data, substances involved, number of intentional overdoses, whether or not service members were prescribed naloxone before a non-fatal overdose, previous prescriptions, co-morbid mental health diagnoses, previous overdose history, referral to treatment, participation in treatment, history of positive drug tests, analysis of discernable patterns in overdoses, existing and anticipated response efforts, access to treatment, and available treatment programs; 
  • Assess barriers to SUD treatment and prevention by engaging with a research center to identify solutions for increasing access to care, non-opioid pain management, interagency actions, and continuity of care while reducing stigma and educating service members on prevention, harm reduction, and treatment; and, 
  • Develop a new standard for the distribution of naloxone or other medication for overdose reversal, opioid disposal materials, fentanyl test strips, and other materials to prevent or reduce overdose, SUD, or other impacts of substance use. 

The DOD Act is endorsed by the?Wounded Warrior Project, American Legion, SAFE Project, Faces and Voices of Recovery, Home Base, Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund, Mass General Brigham, Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association, and the Cape & Islands Veterans Outreach Center.