Trump turning to experts to combat nation's drug epidemic

Thursday, 10 Aug, 2017

Meanwhile, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said that the country would not declare opioid epidemic a public health emergency as President Trump has no immediate plansfor it. Trump said he will be briefed Tuesday on the US opioid epidemic by HHS Secretary Tom Price.

The President pledged to make fighting the opioid crisis, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has deemed an epidemic, a top priority during the 2016 campaign, but some opioid treatment advocates have been disappointed by the Trump administration's steps to combat the problem. The health news website STAT reports that six states have used disaster or emergency declarations in order to take more aggressive measures to fight opioids.

Trump has made it clear over the first six months of his presidency that the victims of this epidemic aren't almost as important to him as fighting the bad hombres he says are bringing drugs to the U.S. And less than two weeks into his presidency, Trump told Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull that New Hampshire was a "drug-infested den".

Trump addressed reporters at Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey on Tuesday ahead of his staff meeting on the issue.

The whole scene resembled a sad, amateurish spectacle as Trump advertised the fact he has no idea what's behind the opioid crisis, or how the federal government should combat it.

Trump seemed to embrace one recommendation of the commission, even if he did not explicitly say so.

He vowed to strengthen America's southern border and focus on law enforcement in response. 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. The crisis, they said, has moved beyond politics.

"So far, Attorney General Sessions' escalation of the war on drugs and President Trump's attempts to take away health care and treatment from millions of people is extremely worrisome", said Smith.

But that comment - and the idea people can avoid addiction by never taking opioids in the first place - goes against a series of scientific studies that found many people get hooked on opioids after their doctor prescribes them painkillers. It comes after several states, including Florida, issued statewide public health emergencies to address the opioid epidemic.

One of the commission's key recommendations included declaring the opioid crisis a national emergency. "The number of opioid overdoses has quadrupled, along with the number of opioid prescriptions, over the last two decades", the piece states.

"I don't think though that the American government has any clue as how to go about addressing this in an effective way which is obviously a problem, since there are a lot of over doses", Preston said.

Price emphasized that all options are still on the table for President Trump during a news conference in Bedminster.

On average, 142 individuals die each day in the United States from drug overdose.