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Expand chart
Data: Opioid Prescribing Rates by Congressional District, United States, 2016. Note: The prescription rates are from 2016, but the map reflects the current representatives of the district. In Ohio’s 12th district, Troy Balderson is listed as the representative, but the race is currently too close to call. Correction: This map has been updated to use the previous district boundaries for Pennsylvania, before redistricting. A previous version of this map used the 2018 election district boundaries. Map: Kerrie Vila/Axios

The areas most flooded with prescription opioids are mostly represented by Republicans. The opioid crisis has taken a steep toll nationwide, but the South and Appalachia are particularly inundated with highly addictive prescription painkillers.

What's next: The House passed roughly 60 opioid-related bills in June; a timeline for getting a full package all the way to President Trump's desk is not yet clear. The administration — most notably the Food and Drug Administration — has also embraced new steps to help combat the addiction epidemic.

Between the lines: This is an association, not necessarily a cause-and-effect relationship. The abuse of prescription painkillers is worst in the South and Appalachia, which are predominantly represented by Republicans.

  • And it's often worse in rural areas than in major cities — note how much the Atlanta area stands out from the rest of the Deep South for its comparatively low levels of opioids per capita.

The big picture: Members of Congress from those districts are likely to hear about the opioid epidemic during their re-election campaigns, even if they're not in competitive races — which heightens the urgency of getting the legislation to Trump's desk.

  • A CBS News poll in May found that nearly eight out of 10 Americans want the federal government to do more to address it.

Prescription opioids are the main target of the federal response so far. The House's package includes bills to change the way some prescription drugs are packaged and how patients return unused drugs.

  • But the epidemic has spread well beyond prescription drugs: Fentanyl and heroin are now associated with more overdoses than prescription drugs.

The big picture: Experts say Congress' efforts are a worthwhile start, but that the main thing Washington needs to do is come up with a lot more money for addiction treatment programs.

  • Public-health experts have praised the FDA for embracing medication-assisted therapy — products like methadone that help reduce the symptoms of withdrawal so people are less likely to return to more dangerous and addictive illicit drugs.

Go deeper

8 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

8 hours ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."

Updated 8 hours ago - World

In reversal, Pentagon now says drone strike killed 10 Afghan civilians

Caskets for the dead are carried towards the gravesite as relatives and friends attend a mass funeral for members of a family that is said to have been killed in a U.S. drone airstrike, in Kabul on Aug. 30. Photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A U.S. drone strike launched on Aug. 29 killed 10 civilians in Afghanistan, including seven children, rather than the Islamic State extremists the Biden administration claimed it targeted, the Pentagon said Friday.

Why it matters: U.S. Central Command said at the time that officials "know" the drone strike "disrupted an imminent ISIS-K threat" to Kabul's airport, and that they were "confident we successfully hit the target."