Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Bipartisan commission asks Trump to declare opioid epidemic a national emergency

"The White House Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis has asked President Donald Trump to 'declare a national emergency' to help fight the deadly opioid epidemic" in an interim report released July 31, Meredith McGraw reports for ABC News. The bipartisan task force, led by Republican N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, was created by President Trump in March to combat the opioid epidemic ravaging America.

"Our nation is in a crisis," said the report. "Our citizens are dying. We must act boldly to stop it. The opioid epidemic we are facing is unparalleled. The average American would likely be shocked to know that drug overdoses now kill more people than gun homicides and car crashes combined." With 142 deaths each day related to opioids, the report says that "America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks."

"The commission hopes that by declaring a national emergency, the federal government will be able to do things like negotiate pricing on naloxone for governmental units and grant waivers to states to increase treatment availability," McGraw reports. Democratic W.V. Senator Joe Manchin said in a statement that such a move would help his constituents, who have been among the hardest hit by the epidemic. "When I’m on the ground in my home state of West Virginia and when I hear the stories of those struggling with opioid addiction it’s obvious our country is in crisis. Declaring a national emergency will allow the Administration and Congress to act with the immediacy that’s needed to end this epidemic."

The report also recommends equipping law enforcement officers with naloxone (an emergency treatment for overdoses), as well as mandating education initiatives for legal prescribers of opioids, finding ways to detect fentanyl, and trying to reduce the stigma associated with addiction. The commission plans to travel the country to meet with struggling communities and learn about successful approaches to addressing the issue. Their final report is expected to be released in the fall.

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