Trump Vows To Defeat Opioid Crisis, Declares Public Health Emergency

By Victoria Kim 10/26/17
This isn't the first time Trump has made such a declaration. What will it mean this time?
Donald Trump

On Thursday afternoon, President Trump held a press conference where he officially declared a national public health emergency for the opioid epidemic which will last for 90 days.

“As Americans, we cannot allow this to continue,” the president said. “It is time to liberate our communities from the scourge. We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic.”

The president was joined by the First Lady and opioid commission chair Gov. Chris Christie.

Sanjay Gupta shared his thoughts on the press conference with CNN. "First of all it's a national public health emergency that was the big headline," Gupta explained. "It's different than a national emergency. The language is important here because it's no new money coming in to address this crisis." 

Kraig Moss, a former Trump supporter who lost his son to a heroin overdose spoke to CNN about the president's declaration. "When I heard the First Lady I wish he had spoken more about what he plans to do without providing additional funding."

During his speech the president addressed many facets that the administration believes is impacting the crisis. He spoke about the need for a border wall to keep drugs from coming into the country, the need for prescription opioid supply limits similar to the ones that CVS recently instated, and even addressed the removal of an opioid from the drug market.

"The FDA... has requested that one especially high risk opioid be withdrawn from the market immediately," Trump said, going on to explain that the White House would be "requiring that a specific opioid, which is truly evil, be taken off the market immediately."

The First Lady also spoke during the press conference. "This could happen to any of us," she said. "Drug addiction could take your friends, neighbors or your family."

Now that the memorandum has been signed and the epidemic is officially a public health emergency, officials can use money from the Public Health Emergency Fund to help alleviate the crisis but the Washington Post reports that the fund only has $57,000. Experts say resolving the opioid crisis could take tens of billions but officials are reportedly working with Congress to figure out how to free up additional funds. 

Last week Trump hinted at the declaration, which would not be his first. “This is a very, very big statement. It’s a very important step. We’re going to be doing it in the next week,” said Trump. But interviews with administration officials reveal that the White House may be unprepared to make it official, yet again.

Instead of waiting for the government to get it together, a half dozen U.S. states have declared their own emergencies, including Alaska and Massachusetts.

According to STAT News, some drug policy experts remained underwhelmed by the possibility of an opioid state of emergency. “It will be as meaningful as the resources being redirected,” said Dr. Joe Parks, the medical director for the National Council for Behavioral Health. “There’s not a lot of discretionary money that isn’t already committed.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr