Speaking at a press briefing at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, HHS Secretary Tom Price said Trump is treating the opioid epidemic "as an emergency", but without an official emergency declaration, which could provide additional government resources.
"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." .
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who chairs the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, is asking a national emergency be declared. The official noted that the issue remains one of the top priorities of the administration.
A study by the National Center for Health Statistics found that estimated drug overdose deaths for the first nine months of 2016 were higher than the first nine months of the previous year, which had already reached an all-time high of 52,404.
The president's drug commission called on Trump recently to declare a national emergency to deal with the crisis. "And nowhere do we pay the price as dearly as with prescription opioid medications". Even after Trump's address yesterday, it remains unclear exactly how he plans to approach the problem.
"If we can get in the school system, educate the teachers, the families, I think there we can start with breaking part of the epidemic", Cynthia Orta, President and Owner of Innova Recovery Services said.
Rapid administration of this drug reverses opioid overdose and prevents death.
"We've gotten a really good response from the White House", said Christie, whom Trump appointed to lead the panel. "We are going to solve that problem", Trump told the crowd. The reality, experts say, is a solution to the problem could be in how doctors prescribe addictive drugs like hydrocodone, OxyContin and Percocet. Instead, the commission was entirely silent on cannabis as a method of combatting opioid deaths, ignoring roughly 7,800 public comments that referenced the plant.
Though the Trump White House is reportedly giving serious consideration to the opioid crisis, the administration's 2018 budget proposal could undercut efforts to take action on the issue.
"Our citizens are dying".
An emergency declaration under the Stafford Act - the law that governs natural disaster declarations and some public health emergencies - could let states in some of the hardest-hit areas apply for millions of dollars in federal aid through the Disaster Relief Fund. Price, briefing reporters at a hotel about 15 minutes away from Trump's golf course, said numerous report's recommendations for increased funding and attention can be accomplished without such a declaration, which is normally reserved for a natural disaster such as a hurricane or for a more focused public health problem such as an infectious disease outbreak.
The opioid commission's report doesn't mention the border wall but does call for stringent measures to detect fentanyl in packages that flow through the U.S. Postal Service from foreign sources, particularly China.