On Thursday, President Trump directed HHS to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency (Presidential Memorandum, remarks, and a fact sheet). Eric Hargan, acting HHS secretary, issued the declaration later that day. The action fell short of the recommendation by Trump’s opioid panel, which asked that the crisis be declared a national emergency. The White House listed ambitious priorities, but announced few concrete actions and provided no new money to the opioid fight. However, we expect that Congress will provide additional treatment, prevention, and research resources as part of the appropriations process.
Don Burke (Pittsburgh) wrote an op-ed for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last week on the opioid crisis that is worth reading. Titled, “We didn’t lose the War on Drugs, we surrendered.” Don argues that “Addiction and overdose deaths have grown exponentially for decades. More money to fight back is needed, yes, but so are new ideas.” He presents data on the human and economic costs of the epidemic, but also highlights the under investment in research, prevention and treatment.
Additionally, ASPPH held a Congressional Briefing on Public Health Approaches to the Opioid Epidemic. Read more about it and watch the video.