(CNSNews.com) - President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he is declaring a national public health emergency in the fight against opioid abuse.
He outlined new steps his administration is taking, including overturning a decades-old rule that blocked certain treatment facilities from treating drug addiction, directing the National Institutes of Health to develop non-addictive painkillers and launching a preventative drug ad campaign.
“My administration is officially declaring the opioid crisis a national public health emergency under federal law,” the president said, adding that he is “directing all executive agencies to use every appropriate emergency authority to fight the opioid crisis.”
“As part of this emergency response, we will announce a new policy to overcome a restrictive 1970s-era rule that prevents states from providing care at certain treatment facilities with more than 16 beds for those suffering from drug addiction,” Trump said.
“A number of states have reached out to us asking for relief, and you should expect to see approvals that will unlock treatment for people in need, and those approvals will come very, very fast,” he said.
“Ending the epidemic will require mobilization of government, local communities, and private organizations. It will require the resolve of our entire country,” the president said.
NIH is already at work looking for a non-addictive alternative to painkillers, Trump said.
“At my direction, the National Institute of Health, headed up by Francis Collins, has taken the first steps of an ambitious public-private partnership with pharmaceutical companies to develop non-addictive painkillers and new treatments for addiction and overdose,” he said.
“I will be pushing the concept of non-addictive painkillers very, very hard. We have to come up with that solution. We give away billions and billions of dollars a year, and we're going to be spending lots of money on coming up with a non-addictive solution,” Trump said. “We will be asking Dr. Collins and the NIH for substantial resources in the fight against drug addiction.”
In addition, his administration is launching “a massive advertising campaign to get people, especially children, not to want to take drugs in the first place because they will see the devastation and the ruination it causes to people and people's lives.”
The administration is also “working with doctors and medical professionals to implement best practices for safe opioid prescribing.” All federally employed prescribers will receive special training on opioids.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched a prescription awareness campaign to put faces on the danger of opioid abuse,” Trump said.
“I want to acknowledge CVS Caremark for announcing last month that it will limit certain first-time opioid prescriptions to seven-day supplies, among other important reforms, and I encourage other companies to do their part to help to stop this epidemic,” the president said.
“The FDA is now requiring drug companies that manufacture prescription opioids to provide more training to prescribers and to help prevent abuse and addiction, and has requested that one especially high-risk opioid be withdrawn from the market immediately. We are requiring that a specific opioid, which is truly evil, be taken off the market immediately,” he said.
Trump also announced efforts by the U.S. Postal Service and the Department of Homeland Security to crackdown on the distribution of synthetic opioid fentanyl.
“The U.S. Postal Service and the Department of Homeland Security are strengthening the inspection of packages coming into our country to hold back the flood of cheap and deadly fentanyl, a synthetic opioid manufactured in China and 50 times stronger than heroin,” the president said.
Trump plans to talk to Chinese President Xi Jinping about the crackdown on fentanyl. He also announced that the Justice Department had indicted “major Chinese drug traffickers” for distributing fentanyl in the U.S.
“The Justice Department is aggressively and, really, valiantly pursuing those who illegally prescribe and traffic in opioids, both in our communities and on the Internet,” the president said. “And I will be looking at the potential of the federal government bringing major lawsuits against bad actors.”
He also announced the distribution of almost $1 billion in grants for addiction prevention and treatment as well as over $50 million for law enforcement programs assisting addicts facing prison. In addition, the administration has launched an $81 million partnership for research in improving pain management for veterans.
“And soon, HHS will launch a taskforce to develop and update best practices for pain management across the federal government,” Trump said.