'We Will Win' - Donald Trump Vows to Fight Opioid Crisis

Thursday, 10 Aug, 2017

Tom Price, the Health and Human Services Secretary told reporters that declaring a national emergency is a step usually reserved for "a time -limited problem" like the Zika outbreak or problems caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

The Trump administration is declining to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency, despite a recommendation from the president's opioid commission calling that its "first and most urgent recommendation".

The US health secretary, Tom Price, who has in the past questioned the value of science-based opioid treatment, said the federal government is "working together on a comprehensive strategy", which would be presented to the president in the "near future".

A study by the National Center for Health Statistics found that estimated drug overdose deaths for the first nine months of 2016 were higher than the first nine months of the previous year, which had already reached an all-time high of 52,404.

"The lack of funding for essential treatment and recovery services is a persistent barrier to effectively addressing the opioid crisis", reads the letter, which was signed by nine other Democrats.

"There's a recommendation on one hand and then it's a rebuffing of that recommendation and we would encourage the President and those in Congress to be encouraging the President that we need to have a very aggressive effort", Mayor Steve Williams said.

"Strong law enforcement is absolutely vital to having a drug-free society", Trump said. Although the declaration could provide additional federal resources, it could also be used to ramp up a punitive response, they said.

AWOL from the public policy event was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who served as the chairman to Trump's recently formed commission on drug overdose and opioid addiction. He added, "I'm confident that the President will accept the recommendations of this commission".

"I don't think though that the American government has any clue as how to go about addressing this in an effective way which is obviously a problem, since there are a lot of over doses", Preston said.

The opioid commission last week, also asked Mr. Trump to declare a national health emergency. "We're going to be bringing them up and bringing them up rapidly". He spoke about the need in particular to curb the over-prescription of opioids from doctors.

The opioid epidemic is widespread.

From the White House press pool report: "Trump first delivered a statement about the opioid crisis, mostly reading from a piece of paper and sitting with both elbows on the table".

An emergency declaration under the Stafford Act - the law that governs natural disaster declarations and some public health emergencies - could let states in some of the hardest-hit areas apply for millions of dollars in federal aid through the Disaster Relief Fund.

There were 36,450 fatal overdoses nationwide in 2008 and 47,055 in 2014, but half of the deaths reported unspecified drugs and in one-fifth to one-quarter, it was the only drug-related designation included.