Monday, 23 October, 2017

Trump Wants to Fight the Opioid Crisis With More Drug War

As'142 Americans dying every day, Opioid Commission seeks national emergency declaration Fighting the scourge of opioids
Andrew Cummings | 10 August, 2017, 00:38

President Donald Trump yesterday vowed that the US will fight and win the battle against the deadly opioid epidemic but stopped short of declaring it a national emergency as a White House Commission recommended last week.

Price said most national emergencies are declared to address a focused, time-limited crisis such as the threat from the Zika virus or damage from Hurricane Sandy.

Alaska Chief Medical Officer Jay Butler told me it's hard to say exactly how such a declaration could help his state without specifics from Trump, but predicted it would "open the possibly for a faster stream of resources" from the federal government to the state. "When you have the capacity of Yankee stadium or Dodger stadium dying every single year in this nation, that's a crisis that has to be given incredible attention", he said.

Price said the briefing included discussion of policies outlined in the commission's report, including expanding resources for treatment and recovery, increasing access to the overdose-reversal drug naloxone, and improving data collection and sharing efforts.

Christie was not in New Jersey while Trump and his aides discussed the opioid crisis, the governor's pet issue.

Trump has pushed for deep cuts in federal aid to states for their Medicaid programs even as Medicaid has emerged as one of the most important tools in combating the crisis.

Trump's team decided a national emergency declaration is not necessary at this time.

Trump had convened top officials at his Somerset County resort, where he is staying for the next week, for his first publicly scheduled briefing on the opioid crisis.

Christie, who is overseas for a family vacation and wasn't at the meeting, served as chairman of the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.

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"You have a big problem in West Virginia, and we are going to solve that problem", said Trump.

Melania Trump during the campaign said among the issues she would focus on as first lady was prevention of cyber bullying.

But Democrats did not wait for Mr. Trump's event in New Jersey to criticize him for failing to live up to his own promises to take action to stop the epidemic, accusing him of nothing more than "empty rhetoric".

"If they don't start, they won't have a problem", he told reporters.

Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed an emergency declaration in June, after the state reported that 790 Arizonans had died from opioid overdoses in 2016, an average of more than two per day.

Nationwide almost 35,000 people in America died of heroin or opioid overdoses in 2015 according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

While experts say stemming the flow of drugs is part of any solution, many, including top administration officials, have said that law enforcement alone can not end an addiction crisis. The fatal overdose rate in 2016 reached a record 19.9 deaths per 100,000 population between July and September, compared to 16.7 per 100,000 over the same period in 2015, according to federal estimates released Tuesday. "We're not letting it go by", Trump said.

Public health officials share growing concern about the opiate crisis, which killed 59,000 people previous year, according to data analysis from the New York Times.

Emergency declaration or not, it appears that Trump continues weighing enforcement-focused initiatives, including those advocated by Sessions.

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