Trump declares opioid crisis 'national emergency'

Posted August 12, 2017

In his comments to reporters on Thursday, Mr. Trump made clear that he was drafting paperwork and meant to issue a formal declaration that the opioid crisis was a national emergency - much the way the federal government officially recognizes the need for a national response to natural disasters.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said Tuesday the administration was coming up with a comprehensive strategy on opioids that would be presented to Trump in the future but added that the crisis could be handled "without the declaration of a national emergency".

"It is a serious problem, the likes of which we've never had", Trump said.

A commission on opioid addiction, appointed by Trump, offered concrete steps that should be taken now, such as the universal distribution of the anti-overdose drug Narcan to all police officers and expanded access to medication-assisted treatment, which has been found to be the most effective therapy.

Trump, who made the issue a key talking point during his campaign, previously received an interim report from a commission he appointed that called for declaration of a national emergency.

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The commission based its estimate of the number of fatal drug overdoses on 2015 statistics, when 52,404 people died of overdoses of all drugs, including opioids, for an average of 142 a day.

Listeners of New Jersey 101.5's "Ask the Governor" know that Christie has been talking for year about drug addiction and changing the way the state's courts handle drug abuse.

He said he'd be drawing up documents to formalize the declaration soon. Let's put it this way: More Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016 alone than in the entire Vietnam War.

Two days earlier, Trump vowed an intense effort on opioids after receiving a private briefing on the crisis.

The announcement comes as states and local governments have struggled with this crisis.

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On August 2, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a dozen federal prosecutors will be sent to cities ravaged by the opioid epidemic to investigate health care fraud and opioid scams fueling the drug abuse epidemic.

If the president does move ahead and declare the opioid crisis an emergency, here's what could happen.

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

Declaring a public health emergency makes the opioid epidemic the government's top priority, infusing much-needed cash into hard-hit areas and bolstering resources. "If they do start, it's awfully tough to get off", he said, according to a CNN report. The emergency declaration would allow the President's cabinet to increase federal funding and accelerate federal support for treatment and prevention initiatives nationwide.

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