Trump declares opioids public health emergency in US

Toni Houston
October 29, 2017

President Donald Trump will on Thursday officially declare a national public health emergency over the U.S. epidemic of opioid drug overdoses, according to senior administration officials, addressing a scourge killing tens of thousands of people nationwide.

The president's declaration of a public health emergency does not provide additional federal funding, but it does allow agencies to redirect previously budgeted grant money.

Andrew Kolodny, codirector of opioid policy research at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, said no emergency declaration would do much to alleviate the impact of opioids without a substantial commitment of federal money and a clear strategy for overhauling the way the country treats addiction. However, without giving Congress the broad-based power to infuse additional funding into opioid recovery and treatment services, especially in New Jersey, one of states hit hardest by the opioid epidemic, we are concerned that the pressure to maintain existing funding sources for now operating programs will pit opioid disorder treatment programs against other worthy initiatives.

The US government will be working with doctors and medical professionals to implement best practices for "safe opioid prescribing" and "requiring federally employed prescribers" to receive special training.

The WVU official said, "It is still our opportunity as a state, as a community, to start to care for these people". "They're part of a public health response".

Largely as a result of these prescriptions and a surge in heroin supplies, almost 12 million people are thought to yearly misuse opioids nationwide, with parts of the Deep South, Appalachia, and New England hit particularly hard by overdoses as a result. It also allows grants to help people struggling with opioid addiction, but without allocating money for that objective. "We strongly urge the Administration to act further and release additional monies to bring this emergency to an end". Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette was at the White House for the presidential announcement.

"While I appreciate that the president has finally taken a formal step, his declaration is short on specifics and lacks critical funding", she said. A statement from Christie said the commission will give Trump "an even more comprehensive set of recommendations" to fight opioids in a report to be issued November 1.

Ohio Department of Health spokeswoman Melanie Amato said her agency will review the declaration's details "to see what it means for Ohio and "how it might complement what we believe is already one of the most aggressive and comprehensive approaches in the nation as we help our communities battle the scourge of drug addiction". Those people did not have a choice to, as Trump said, "not to take drugs, just not to take them".

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), representing almost 3,000 local health departments, also expressed disappointment that Trump did not go further and call the crisis a national emergency.

"Today's declaration prioritizes the urgency of this epidemic for the federal government and will ultimately help ME and our local communities more effectively fight this crisis", he said.

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