What the president needs to do is ensure congress writes a law mandating all opioid manufacturers pay a fee for the privilege of selling their drugs in our country.
We are grateful President Trump is addressing our nation’s opioid crisis, however, we are disappointed he did not declare a state of national emergency as promised in August. The distinction between a national emergency and his declared public health emergency is the duration of the emergency and delegation of funds. The current emergency spans 90 days and is void of additional federal funds delegated to the proposed solutions. This means each state has the capacity to move existing funds from one program to dedicate it to the opioid crisis.
It feels to me like stealing from Peter to pay Paul. There aren’t enough funds available for the solutions the president has proposed today. It could put our state departments in a difficult situation, taking from one program needing funding, to give to another.
We were impressed by First Lady, Milania Trump’s words and grateful for her willingness to make this a top priority in her work. Our President’s speech will have the impact of educating Americans who are unaware of the depth and breadth of this crisis – increasing national awareness. He did not articulate the mechanics in which our country will fulfill the president’s strategy. In 2016, 64,000 Americans had overdosed and died. That is 175 per day – seven each hour. Over 200 million Americans have lost their lives. Our President had addressed areas we desperately need, including investing in the treatment of pain with nonaddictive medications, the removal of limits on 16 bed or more treatment facilities, the mobilization and better communication between government agencies, expedited approval for treatment, and a Health and Human Services task force dedicated to pain management and treatment for incarcerated individuals. We strongly call on our president to reconsider and declare the opioid crisis a state of national emergency and we request he articulate the plan to fund the solutions our nation needs. The president must work with government agencies, organizations, legislators and influencers to continue to shift the stigma of addiction and deter the unethical influence the pharmaceutical companies have over our lawmakers and the education for our prescribers.
We should remind the president that a vast majority of deaths are caused in our homes by legal drugs. Four of five new heroin users started with pain pills. This is a prescription opioid crisis fueling a heroin crisis.
Today, we move a bit closer to a world where individuals with chronic pain receive integrated care focused on wellness rather than drugs, and those with addiction have easy access to compassionate evidence-based treatment.
We will continue to work towards this future and hold our governments accountable.
This is minuscule progress, our work is far from over.
Lexi Reed Holtum
Steve Rummler HOPE Network