January 21, 2018

Trump signals he will declare opioids crisis a 'national emergency'

12 August 2017, 12:32 | Kara Nash

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"The opioid crisis is an emergency and I'm saying officially right now it is an emergency", Trump told reporters Thursday in Bedminster, N.J.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price seemed to suggest after the briefing the president was leaning against the recommendation, arguing the administration could deploy the necessary resources and attention to deal with the crisis without declaring a national emergency.

Such a declaration, recommended by a Trump-appointed commission on opioid addiction last week, would free up federal health care dollars to pay for drug addiction treatment.

"Hopefully that will mean more resources to help both law enforcement and treatment providers, and, most importantly, people with substance use disorders", said Sen.

In early August, Trump's commission on the opioid crisis issued a preliminary report that described the overdose death toll as "September 11th every three weeks", and urged the president to immediately "declare a national emergency under either the Public Health Service Act or the Stafford Act". "It remains to be seen how much this will fundamentally change its course", said Caleb Alexander, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness.

McMaster, the President's top national security aide, has recommended increasing the number of United States troops deployed to bolster American forces in the country.

As per the statistics provided by Bharara, nearly 80 Americans die from opioid overdoses every day: almost 550 a week, 2,400 a month, 30,000 a year.

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Therein lies the problem: We don't need another commission to know what to do to ease the opioid crisis.

Commissions, in ME and other states, cities like Bangor and nationally have come up with "wonderful ideas", Dr. Mark Publicker, an addiction specialist in Portland, told the BDN.

Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others.

From a strictly practical standpoint the emergency declaration would have two main effects, according to Keith Humphreys, an addiction specialist at Stanford University (and frequent Wonkblog contributor) who worked in the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy under President Barack Obama.

Latvala said he would work to push more state money into the gap left by lawmakers this year.

Since last November, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, and Arizona have all declared the opioid crisis a state of emergency, while Alaska has issued a disaster declaration.

The Philadelphia Division of the Drug Enforcement Agency reported 4,642 people died of accidental drug overdoses in Pennsylvania in 2016 - a 37 percent increase. We need a national focus on this epidemic. However, despite today's decision, this is not a problem we as a country are going to be able to arrest, incarcerate, or legislate our way out of.

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