Health Care

Trump to Declare Public Health Emergency for Opioid Crisis

Trump to Declare Public Health Emergency for Opioid Crisis

Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the formal declaration was delayed because of the "in-depth legal process" required to do so.

The opioid epidemic killed 64,000 Americans in 2016, prompting Trump to call it the "worst drug crisis in our nation's history". "That means President Trump must use this declaration to boost treatment, invest in the people and programs that fight this every day, and make treatment more affordable".

To end the epidemic, Mr Trump said there would need to be a mobilisation of government, local communities and private organisations.

He told the story of his brother Fred, who struggled with alcoholism and died in his 40s from complications of the disease; Fred's life instilled in Trump the commitment to never drink and never smoke.

On the campaign trail, he would often speak about the opioid crisis in states like New Hampshire and OH, but would often cite drugs pouring from across the U.S. -Mexico border as a primary driver of the problem. A statement from Christie said the commission will give Trump "an even more comprehensive set of recommendations" to fight opioids in a report to be issued November 1.

First Lady Melania Trump joined her husband in the East Wing to offer prayers to those fighting and recovering from drug addiction.

Trump's declaration won't free up much additional funding, but gives acting Health and Human Services Secretary Eric Hargan leeway to loosen certain regulations that he otherwise would not be able to.

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The current budget for the Public Health Emergency Fund is $57,000.

The declaration is limited, falling far short of the steps experts say is necessary to combat the crisis.

In an interview that aired Wednesday with Lou Dobbs on Fox Business News, Trump said he was planning to declare an emergency during the "next week".

On March 29, President Donald Trump issued an executive order establishing the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis and vowed to lead an aggressive coordinated federal campaign against it.

These so-called medication-assisted treatments continue to be stigmatized in many places.

The opioid commission's chairman, New Jersey Gov Chris Christie, applauded Trump's actions, saying on Twitter that Trump is "doing what we asked of him".

Despite rising public alarm about the epidemic, the unmet need for treatment remains enormous, with just 1 in 10 addicted Americans getting specialty treatment, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.