Trump ignores Christie's call to declare national emergency over opioid crisis

An estimated 2.4 million individuals in the US are currently experiencing problematic opioid use

Tom Price, the secretary of health and human services, said, "We will treat it as an emergency", but noted that such declarations were typically reserved for specific, geographically limited outbreaks of infectious diseases. With 142 Americans dying every day from a drug overdose, the nation is "enduring a death toll" equal to the September 11, 2001, terror attacks every three weeks, according to members of President Donald Trump's opioid commission, who urged the president on Monday to declare the crisis a national emergency.

Politicians, law enforcement and health care officials across the country are struggling to confront the surging crisis of addiction and death associated with opioids - painkillers like Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin as well as synthetic drugs imported from China like fentanyl.

The drug overdose death rate reached 19.9 cases for every 100,000 people during the late summer of 2016, compared with 16.7 cases per 100,000 the year before, the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) stated in its quarterly mortality report.

Trump has never proven himself able to discuss health care policy in any detail - it's unclear if he even understands how health insurance works.

Price said Tuesday the administration would make sure resources are available for prevention, treatment, and recovery, while not losing sight of the crisis at hand.

The whole scene resembled a sad, amateurish spectacle as Trump advertised the fact he has no idea what's behind the opioid crisis, or how the federal government should combat it.

It is speculated that Trump is likely to address one or more of these recommendations in his address today.

Trump promising to find a better solution to our opioid problem by getting tough, strengthening our southern border and focusing on law enforcement.

"The reaction from all of them was universally very good", Christie said at an unrelated news conference last Wednesday.

AWOL from the public policy event was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who served as the chairman to Trump's recently formed commission on drug overdose and opioid addiction.

Trump's law-and-order approach to solving the opioid problem is at odds with the experts', who say focusing on the demand side of the epidemic, not the supply side, is the key to saving lives. Price said combatting the opioid epidemic is "an absolute priority of [Trump's] administration". He spoke about the need in particular to curb the over-prescription of opioids from doctors.

On Tuesday, Trump and Price - along with other administration officials and advisers - had a private briefing on the opioid epidemic.

Consider this: The Public Health Emergency Fund, created by Congress in 1983, can get an infusion of only $45 million every year, leaving it only a meager resource when it comes to dealing with big public health problems.

There were 36,450 fatal overdoses nationwide in 2008 and 47,055 in 2014, but half of the deaths reported unspecified drugs and in one-fifth to one-quarter, it was the only drug-related designation included.

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