USA: Trump Declares Opioid Crisis National Emergency
President of the United States Trump has declared the country’s opioid crisis a national emergency, saying the epidemic exceeded anything he had seen with other drugs in his lifetime.
The Presidential statement came in response to a question as he spoke to reporters outside a national security briefing at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., where he is on a working vacation.
The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I’m saying officially right now it is an emergency.
It’s a national emergency.
We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis,” he said.
Last week, the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, which is led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), issued a preliminary report that described the overdose death toll as “September 11 every three weeks” and urged the president to declare a national emergency.
A White House statement issued Thursday evening said that Trump “has instructed his Administration to use all appropriate emergency and other authorities to respond to the crisis caused by the opioid epidemic.”
The scale of the crisis, which has been building for well over a decade, is such that a presidential declaration may not have much immediate impact. It should allow the administration to remove some bureaucratic barriers and waive some federal rules governing how states and localities respond to the drug epidemic. One such rule restricts where Medicaid recipients can receive addiction treatment.
There’s no doubt that this shines a brighter light on the epidemic. 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.
The emergency declaration may allow the government to deploy the equivalent of its medical cavalry, the U.S. Public Health Service, a uniformed service of physicians and other staffers that can target places with little medical care or drug treatment, said Andrew Kolodny, co-director of opioid policy research at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. He said the DEA might be able to use the emergency to require prescriber education for doctors and others who dispense opioids.
On Tuesday, Trump received an extended briefing on the subject in Bedminster. White House aides said Trump was still reviewing the report and was not yet ready to announce which of its recommendations he would embrace.
Experts said that the national emergency declaration would allow the executive branch to direct funds towards expanding treatment facilities and supplying police officers with the anti-overdose remedy naloxone.
And while the declaration could put more pressure on Congress to provide additional funding, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law professor Juliet Sorensen told NBC News earlier this week it would be a rare move for Trump that both Republicans and Democrats could agree on.
Everybody agrees this is a crisis,” she said.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who chairs the presidential opioid commission, thanked Trump “for accepting this first recommendation of our July 31 interim report.”
I am completely confident that the President will address this problem aggressively and do all he can to alleviate the suffering and loss of scores of families in every corner of our country,” Christie said in a statement.
We look forward to continuing the Commission’s efforts and to working with this President to address the approximately 142 deaths a day from drug overdoses in the United States.”
Nearly 35,000 people across America died of heroin or opioid overdoses in 2015, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. But a new University of Virginia study released on Monday concluded the mortality rates were 24% higher for opioids and 22% higher for heroin than had been previously reported.