President Donald Trump said on Thursday that his administration was in the process of drawing up paperwork to declare the country’s opioid epidemic a national emergency, despite refusal to do so at a press briefing on the topic earlier this week.
Continue Reading Below
"The opioid crisis is an emergency and I'm saying officially right now it is an emergency," Trump told the media. "We're going to draw it up and we're going to make it a national emergency. It is a serious problem, the likes of which we have never had."
By declaring the issue a national emergency, the government will have more flexibility to work past regulations and other potential barriers.
On Tuesday, during a briefing specifically on the opioid epidemic from New Jersey, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price refused to declare it a national emergency.
“In the area of public health emergency have been focused on a specific area, a time-limited problem,” Price said. “We believe that, at this point that the resources that we need or the focus that we need to bring to bear to the opioid crisis, at this point, can be addressed without the declaration of an emergency, although all things are on the table for the president.”
Last week the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis urged Trump to declare the nation’s opioid epidemic a public health emergency, likening the death toll related to drug overdoses to experiencing a “September 11th every three weeks.”
Continue Reading Below
President Trump has not faltered on the importance of combating the opioid epidemic since the campaign cycle, employing tough rhetoric and continuously calling it a major problem for the country.
According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control, in the third quarter of 2016 an estimated 19.9 out of every 100,000 people in the U.S. died from drug overdoses, compared with 16.7 in the year prior—distinguished as a significant increase by the agency. Between the third quarter of 2015 and the same period in 2016, the drug overdose death rate registered at 18.5 out of every 100,000 people. Overdose-related deaths climbed higher throughout the first nine months of 2016, according to the CDC, and an estimated 142 individuals die every day.