May 25, 2018

What President Trump's Public Health Emergency Declaration Means for the Opioid Crisis

28 October 2017, 12:53 | Darrell Baldwin

Brendan Smialowski AFP Getty Images

Brendan Smialowski  AFP  Getty Images

"Effective today my administration is officially declaring the opioid crisis a national public health emergency under federal law", the president said Thursday. It's not clear what sort of education campaign Trump is envisioning, but the Obama administration in 2015 also announced a training program in opioid prescribing for prescribers who worked for the federal government. The Medical Care Journal estimated a year ago the economic cost of opioid overdoses, dependence and abuse was almost $79 billion.

The current budget for the Public Health Emergency Fund is $57,000.

While stakeholders said they welcome anything to alleviate a crisis that now kills more people than guns or vehicle crashes, some criticized Trump for not dedicating new money to the problem. Six states have declared opioid-related public health or disaster emergencies.

Deaths caused by opioid overdose have almost quadrupled since 1999, which is why Mr. Trump said he was making addiction a top priority. In addition to the declaration of public health emergency, Trump said the government will be taking steps to attack the complexities of the opioid epidemic.

He reiterated that specific concern with Dobbs on Wednesday and cited his planned wall along the U.S. -Mexico border as a deterrent. The Department of Justice has continued to prosecute drug traffickers supplying fentanyl.

The National Institutes of Health is launching a public-private partnership to research and develop non-addictive painkillers. But it remains unclear what impact Trump's new order will have on the crisis. Vermont for years now has had the second-highest per-capita rate of all states for treatment admissions for prescription opioids; only Maine's is higher.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican who attended Trump's speech, said he hopes the initiative will lead to "a better coordinated federal response to this crisis". Jeanne Shaheen, were in attendance at the White House for the announcement.

"I think that maybe I'm the only one, I think that there are a lot of people that have lost two", says Jean McCauley about the unfathomable distinction of losing all three of her sons to opioid overdoses. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., unveiled legislation which would invest $45 billion to combat the opioid crisis and called on Trump to direct the government to negotiate lower prices of naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal drug used by first responders.

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