What President Trump's Public Health Emergency Declaration Means for the Opioid Crisis

Posted October 29, 2017

President Donald Trump declared Thursday afternoon that the opioid crisis - which is killing more than 100 people each day - is a public health emergency.

She thinks Trump's declaration will make it easier for the federal government to expand services and will produce real results for West Virginia in terms of treatment, enforcement, education and medical issues.

Trump said his plan would include a requirement that federally employed prescribers be trained in safe practices for opioid prescriptions, and a new federal initiative to develop nonaddictive painkillers, as well as intensified efforts to block shipments of fentanyl, a cheap and extremely potent synthetic opioid manufactured in China, into the United States. "If the president truly wants to stem opioid addiction, he will bolster - not dismantle - the Affordable Care Act, support Medicaid funding, and engage agencies necessary to fight this crisis".

Andrew Kolodny, codirector of opioid policy research at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, said no emergency declaration would do much to alleviate the impact of opioids without a substantial commitment of federal money and a clear strategy for overhauling the way the country treats addiction.

"We fully recognize the challenge facing Ohio, and we welcome any additional resources provided by the federal government to better arm those on the frontlines combating addiction in our communities", said Jon Keeling, a spokesman for Ohio Gov John Kasich.

Trump will sign a presidential memorandum that will order the Department of Health and Human Services the declare the public health emergency and direct all federal agencies to use any emergency powers at their disposal to reduce opioid deaths.

"All the treatments up till now have all been a 30-day or a 90-day rehab and then you're cured, bye, and that's just not effective", Nerenberg said.

The declaration does not unlock new funding, and there is $57,000 left in the public health emergency fund, according to The Hill.

- Patients in isolated areas such as Appalachia will have greater access to opioid treatment through telemedicine and receive prescriptions without seeing a doctor in person, as is generally required under current law.

"The declaration of an opioid public health emergency and not a state of national emergency does not go far enough", said NACCHO´s Laura Hanen, the association´s interim executive director. "I hope to continue working with the administration in the coming weeks and months to increase funding for this battle and explore additional actions that can help save lives in Maine and across the country".

But she pointed out that after hurricanes and other national disasters, billions of dollars in relief is quickly made available to victims. The city is now paying $70 to $90 for a two-dose pack of naloxone, she said.

The opioid epidemic killed 64,000 Americans in 2016, prompting Trump to call it the "worst drug crisis in our nation's history".

"Today's declaration prioritizes the urgency of this epidemic for the federal government and will ultimately help ME and our local communities more effectively fight this crisis", he said. "Fire and police departments are struggling to afford overdose reversal drugs". These are actions we can take right now.