President Donald Trump said on Monday that the Justice Department will crack down on doctors and pharmaceutical companies to prevent the overprescribing of opioids as part of a multifaceted push to address a nationwide addiction epidemic.
Speaking at an event in New Hampshire, Trump said federal authorities will work to ensure that doctors who are reimbursed by the U.S. government follow best practices in prescribing medication. The Justice Department will “aggressively deploy” criminal and civil litigation against opioid manufacturers that violate federal guidelines, the White House said in a statement outlining the anti-opioid initiative.
“We’re also taking action to prevent addiction by addressing the problem of overprescribing,” Trump said. “Our Department of Justice is looking very seriously into bringing major litigation against some of these drug companies. We’ll bring it at a federal level.”
The White House is aiming to reduce opioid prescriptions by one-third within the next three years, according to the plan. The Trump administration will also launch a public awareness campaign to alert the country to the dangers of overusing opioids. Federally employed healthcare providers will be pushed to adopt best practices aimed at preventing over-prescription.
Opioid-related stocks plunged in trading Monday ahead of Trump’s announcement. Endo International, Depomed and Mallinckrodt all posted losses of several percentage points.
The proposed action is part of a three-pronged effort to combat opioid addiction in the country. Besides the crackdown on pharmaceutical companies, Trump said the government will work to cut the supply of dangerous drugs from international sources and enact harsh penalties against drug dealers, including the possibility of the death penalty for drug traffickers.
Additionally, the government will take steps to aid addiction treatment options on both the state and local level, including treatment of federal inmates and ensuring the first responders are supplied with naloxone, which can help treat and reverse overdoses.