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Trump opioid commission: No national emergency, but still a top priority
10 August 2017, 12:34 | Damon Campbell
Pres. Trump To Be Briefed On Opioid Crisis
President Trump declined Tuesday to declare the opioid epidemic sweeping the United States a national emergency, despite a recommendation last week by his own commission.
The presidential opioid commission, which is chaired by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, recommended Trump "declare a national emergency" and claimed "America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks".
The opioid commission had issued a draft report last week that called for a declaration of a national emergency and focused entirely on public health recommendations to address the crisis.
President Donald Trump vowed Tuesday that the US would "win" the battle against the heroin and opioid plague, but he stopped short of declaring a national emergency as his handpicked commission had recommended.
Price himself could also declare a public health emergency.
Although Christie has promoted treatment as a priority, he has also said that drug dealers should be prosecuted and sent to prison for their role in fueling the crisis.
"It is an emergency", Price said, adding that the number of people who die each year from opioids would fill Yankee Stadium. The first is Barack Obama and his team didn't "let" the opioid crisis "go by"; they pleaded with Congress to make serious investments in the emergency, and by large, lawmakers balked.
An emergency declaration could help free federal money to combat the epidemic and force agencies to do more to confront it, said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, co-director of opioid policy research at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.
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A state of emergency for the opioid crisis would likely be a little nebulous in its execution because the federal laws governing state-of-emergency status were designed for situations involving infectious diseases and natural disasters. But numerous state's politicians and residents took issue with Mr. Trump's comments, including the Republican governor, Chris Sununu, who flatly said, "The president is wrong".
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In brief remarks to reporters before meeting with Mr. Price on Tuesday, Mr. Trump didn't mention the report or its recommendations.
"We're going to have a tremendous team of experts and people that want to beat this disgusting situation that has happened in our country - and we will".
"These drug companies created this problem, and what's infuriating is that they're doing precious little to be of assistance", he said. "It is a problem the likes of which we have not seen", he said. "If they do start, it's awfully tough to get off", he said.
A recent report in August's American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests that heroin and opioid deaths in the United States have been under-reported. Trump made no such declaration but did cheer as West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said he would leave the Democratic Party to become a Republican.
"No state has been spared, and no demographic group has gone untouched", said Kellyanne Conway, a White House counselor who had been active in the opioid effort and joined Price in briefing reporters and the president.
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