President Trump said Thursday the opioids crisis is a "national emergency" and that his administration is "drawing documents" to declare it one, just days after his health secretary suggested the president didn't need emergency powers to fight the problem.
On Tuesday, Trump received an extended briefing on the subject in Bedminster.
Christie applauded Trump's decision in a statement, saying the president "deserves great credit".
Trump, who made the issue a key talking point during his campaign, previously received an interim report from a commission he appointed that called for declaration of a national emergency. Advocates have pushed for flexibility about issues like Medicaid-funded addiction treatment.
"There's no doubt that this shines a brighter light on the epidemic". He said federal drug prosecutions have dropped but promised he would "be bringing them up rapidly".
Price pointed out that the Trump administration can still curb the increase of deaths due to drug overdose by not declaring the crisis as a public health emergency.
"There's a lot that could be done".
Mr. Price said this week that most such declarations are for a specific outbreak of an infectious disease, such as the threat from the Zika virus, or are limited geographically to a specific location, like Hurricane Sandy, which hit the New Jersey coast in 2012.
The 21st Century Cures Act, which Congress approved last year, is already sending states $1 billion over two years for opioid addiction treatment and prevention, but experts say it is far short of what is needed. Trump can't just wipe these problems away, but he can direct his agencies to remove the barriers under their control and work with other federal agencies and state governments to eliminate other counterproductive hurdles.
The report's recommendations included increasing capacity for treating people with opioid addictions, more education on the problem for doctors who prescribe opioids, and increasing the use of naloxone, which can be used to block the effects of opioids, particularly after an overdose.
The report actually understated the lethality of the epidemic.
The president was briefed on the drug commission report earlier this week, which pointed out there are 142 overdose deaths a day across the country. New government data show an increase in opioid overdose deaths during the first three quarters of past year, an indication that efforts to curb the epidemic are not working.
Every year, for the last four years, 30 people in the county have died from an opioid overdose. Eighty-five percent of the cases involved heroin and opioids.
In 2015, the USA faced 52,000 overdose deaths, with 33,000 of those roughly related specifically to opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
More than 33,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2015, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, or Nida.