Filler Lost His Son Jordan in 2014 to a Heroin Overdose
Has Started the Jordan Michael Filler Foundation to Combat Abuse and Addiction in Illinois
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) announced that Mark Filler of Highland Park, who lost his son Jordan to a heroin overdose in 2014, will be attending the State of the Union as his guest tomorrow evening. Jordan passed away at age 23 after a long battle with drug addiction. His family started the Jordan Michael Filler Foundation, which works with local schools and communities to protect other children and families from the dangers of heroin and drug addiction. Tomorrow, January 12th, will be the two-year anniversary of Jordan’s death.
“As Mark Filler’s family knows, no family is safe from the heroin epidemic that is claiming a life, on average, every three days in the Chicago suburbs. Through programs like the Jordan Michael Filler Foundation and my Anti-Heroin Task Force, we can make families more aware of the warning signs, prevent opiod prescription abuse and make naloxone more available.”
In 2014, Senator Kirk and local county leaders in Illinois launched a Suburban Anti-Heroin Task Force to tackle the ongoing problem of heroin addiction and abuse in the Chicago suburbs. Attending the launch was Felicia Meceli, who lost her son Louie at age 24 to a heroin overdose.
In DuPage County, the Senator met with local leaders like County Coroner Rich Jorgensen and County Board Membersto discuss the rising issue of heroin abuse in DuPage.
Last year, Senator Kirk wrote to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg to approve the development of intranasal naloxone, a drug that can save lives during an overdose. For example, the spray costs DuPage County $16 per unit compared to $290 per unit for the intravenous form of the drug. Unless fast-tracked, approval for the nasal spray would have taken 7-8 years, a delay that according to current trends would have risked more than 1,000 lives in the Chicago suburbs due to heroin addiction. In July, the FDA accepted nasal naloxone for fast-track approval, and since the device requires minimal training, countless more lives will be saved once naloxone is made more widely available.
Earlier this year, Live 4 Lali, a group Senator Kirk has been working with to raise awareness about the threat of heroin, had more than 3,000 auto-injectors of naloxone and teamed up with a local clinic to train individuals on how to use them.
Senator Kirk and a bipartisan group of senators also recently wrote a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell calling for increased access to medication-assisted therapy (MAT) to treat opioid abuse. One month later, HHS complied with their request and raised the number of patients physicians can treat using this proven method. MAT typically involves a combination of medications, including buprenorphine, and therapy to treat opioid abuse while curbing the side effects of withdrawal.
In August, Senator Kirk met with the Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli to discuss heroin and prescription drug abuse, and the suburban success of naloxone and increasing access to this medication was discussed.
In November, Senator Kirk and Rep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.-10) sent a letter to Larry Merlo, President and CEO of CVS, urging the company to make Illinois one of the states that the pharmacy makes narcan available to consumers without a prescription. It was announced that 20 additional states would be eligible to have naloxone available over the counter at CVS stores – 12 states had already been chosen by the company.
Last month, Senator Kirk worked with his colleagues on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to include $123 million, an increase of $91 million or 284%, for programs targeted to combat opioid abuse at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.