Two days after President Donald Trump said the US has “no alternative” but to triumph over the worsening opioid overdose crisis, the president said he is preparing to declare the opioid crisis – America’s worst public health crisis in decades - a national emergency.
"We're going to draw it up and we're going to declare it as a national emergency," Trump told reporters on Thursday, according to Axios. In declaring a crisis – a course of action that was recommended by the opioid commission that Trump appointed in March – Trump would be overruling Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price, who said just two days ago that an emergency declaration wasn't necessary.
During a press conference in New Jersey Thursday afternoon, Trump described the rash of opioid-related deaths as “an emergency” and promised to spend “a lot of money” on the crisis.
"The opioid crisis is an emergency and I'm saying officially right now it is an emergency. It's a national emergency." Pres. Trump says pic.twitter.com/sXmPHXjMO6— CBS News (@CBSNews) August 10, 2017
In a preliminary report issued late last month, Trump’s opioid commission made a handful of recommendations that can be swiftly implemented once an emergency is declared. They include stepping up interdiction of deadly opioid analogues like fentanyl and carfentanil, cracking down on health insurers who refuse to cover mental-health issues like addiction treatment and making opioid overdose antidotes like naloxone widely available to the public.
Opioids are driving an unprecedented increase in drug overdoses as users who were once hooked on painkillers turn to more dangerous drugs like heroin, which is increasingly being cut with powerful synthetic opioids like fentanyl, causing many unsuspecting addicts to overdose. The crisis is leading to so many deaths in some areas that one Pennsylvania coroner had to increase the size of his freezer to make room for all the bodies. Drug overdose deaths in the US reached a record high of 64,000 during the first nine months of 2016, according to data released by the CDC.
Read the rest of the commission’s preliminary report below: