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Trump Announced Opioid Addiction Epidemic in the US
30 October 2017, 02:19 | Rex Hubbard
Here is what Trump's opioid declaration means for health IT
President Donald Trump on Thursday declared a war on drug addiction and opioid abuse, saying he would mobilize his entire administration to address the crisis now that he has officially determined it is a national public health emergency.
His directive does not on its own release any additional funds to deal with a drug crisis that claimed more than 59,000 lives in 2016, and the president did not request any, although his aides said he would soon do so. And because ultimately you can't move the needle much on the opioid crisis without more funding, it raises the stakes significantly for what happens over the holidays, at a time when Congress is laser-focused on tax reform.
But even as he vowed to alleviate the scourge of drug addiction and abuse that has swept the country - a priority that resonated strongly with the workingclass voters who supported his presidential campaign - Trump fell short of fulfilling his promise in August to declare "a national emergency" on opioids, which would have prompted the rapid allocation of federal funding to address the issue.
The president's opioid commission is expected to deliver a final report with recommendations and findings November 1, after a month's delay.
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But Trump's order only encompasses the Public Health Services Act, and its $57,000 of available emergency cash. The legislation reduces the barriers to access $4.28 billion, which the federal government made available in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. While the Public Health Emergency Act is still associated with a Public Health Emergency Fund, Congress has not yet funded that pot in the past several years, a senior administration official had said.
Opioids, primarily prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl - a drug 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine - are fueling the drug overdoses. The Department of Justice has continued to prosecute drug traffickers supplying fentanyl. That drug was pulled from the market in July at the Food and Drug Administration's request following a 2015 outbreak of HIV and hepatitis C in southern in linked to sharing needles to inject a physical and chemical reformulation/manipulation of the pills.
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The National Institutes of Health is launching a public-private partnership to research and develop non-addictive painkillers.
Towards the end of his speech, Trump acknowledged Manchester Fire Chief Dan Goonan, whose program "Safe Station" had assisted over 350 Granite Staters suffering from addiction begin the recovery process.
U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, were present at the White House for the announcement Thursday.
By not declaring a national emergency, Trump ensured that the fight against opioid addiction will remain underfunded, Kessler said.
Trump's action also doesn't come with any new, designated funding to combat opioid use.
Trump's planned announcement comes in response to an epidemic that has worsened in recent years and especially wreaked havoc in rural areas.
Capito said, "I think this takes a dramatic step forward in fighting this national crisis".
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