White House Fights Opioid Crisis with Opioids Law
On the one year anniversary since Trump declared “the opioid crisis a public health emergency”, the President signed legislation on October 24th that would bring unprecedented relief to the current opioid epidemic. “Together we are going to end the scourge of drug addiction in America,” Trump said during the event. “We are going to end it or we are going to at least make an extremely big dent in this terrible, terrible problem.” The House of Representatives passed its own version of the law in an overwhelming vote: 393 to 8 earlier this year. This bill has brought bi-partisanship to an otherwise divided Washington right before the mid-term elections. According the CNN Politics Lamar Alexander (Tennessee Republican Senator and the lead sponsor of the legislation) stated that the bill “represents the work of 8 committees in the House and 5 committees in the Senate who have worked together to reach consensus about how to help address the opioid crisis which is affecting virtually every American community.”
The Opioid Crisis
For the past few years opioid-related overdose deaths have increased dramatically because of the accessibility of opioids (prescribed or otherwise). Recent data released by the CDC, however, suggests that the escalation has tapered off by the beginning of 2018. This trend in the epidemic may be a milestone for now, however, it is far from over. Surveys conducted by the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration state that the opioid crisis is worse than ever. To combat this crisis, the White House has set up preliminary and impactful steps forward such as allocating funding for research, supporting treatment centers, and easily accessible care. Congress also notes that this legislation is not a one size fits all solution to the problem, yet an important stride in the ongoing fight against opioid addiction.
What this means to fellow Americans
“This expansive new law would garner resources and tools to create opioid recovery centers or treatment facilities” states Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. This also means that a flow of funding will be created for research to find painkillers that are additive free. It will also promote the expansion and access to treatment protocols, detox facilities, and mental health and recovery centers that are desperately needed.
Bringing in public and private partnerships, the White House’s far-reaching legislation will be easily accessed by Americans no matter where they might be. Amazon, Belden Industries, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, CVS Health, Dispose RX, Emergent BioSolutions, Facebook, Global Teen Challenge, Google, Johnson & Johnson, Leidos, My Pillow, National Head Start Association, National Safety Council, Red Cross, Rite Aid, Ultimate Fighting Championship, Unshattered, Walgreens, and Walmart are among the many organizations partnering with this new legislation to end the opioid crisis. CNN Politics writes in the article: Trump signs opioids law at White House event, these companies have pledged to “carry out a majority of commitments such as drug disposal programs, streamlining medical records, increasing opioids education, and supporting individuals in addition recovery.” These public and private partnerships will be a vehicle for the opioid bill to drive its initiative to make attaining help and resources more accessible and reliable. Turning to brands, companies, and organizations that the American public already trusts is an important cornerstone of this legislation. This way people from all parts of the country will be able to get the help they need.
Funding for the New Bill
Funding for this new legislation has been allocated from the US Department of Health and Human Services. Congress has set the initial budget for $8 billion; however there are disputes amongst experts. Expert financial analysts do not believe it is even close to how much it is going to cost. Based on governmental data, the National Center for Health Statistics claims that the opioid and drug epidemic has reached exceedingly high proportions. To tackle such an enormous and important task funding is crucial, especially in its infancy.
What to Expect
Jeff Sessions, United States Attorney General, is backed by the Trump administration to sue certain pharmaceutical companies – which are believed to have played a part the opioid epidemic. “I’d also like to ask you to bring a major lawsuit against the drug companies on opioids,” Trump told Sessions during a Cabinet meeting. “Some states have done it. But I’d like a lawsuit to be brought against these companies that are really sending opioids at a level that it shouldn’t be happening.” Therefore, we can expect pharmaceutical companies to come under fire and take pressures from Washington. The President also wants Jeff Sessions to take legal action against international companies, specifically Chinese pharmaceutical companies who have supplied fentanyl to the US. Additionally, not only these companies who manufacture drugs will be the only ones under scrutiny but other professionals in the medical field will be targeted as well. It is highly probable that medical centers, pharmacies, and rogue doctors will be put under the microscope. So far the Justice Department has charged only 170 physicians who have been illegally prescribing painkillers.
President Donald Trump’s initiative and new legislation (Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand) will also support treatment facilities. These facilities will be a place in American communities where vulnerable Americans can seek out treatment from opioid and drug addiction. In addition to supporting treatment facilities, the White House should create strong directives and infrastructures to regulate these centers. The investments in treatment programs should emphasize in medical detoxification from opioids and other drugs, followed by an individualized emotional assessment to address the factors that perpetuate addiction. By combining science with compassion, they will able to help people work toward a sustained recovery from opioids. We strongly believe treatment centers are the real answers to fight the opioid epidemic. Rather than masking the opioid problem by giving a person more drugs, treatment centers must help patients work through the underlying issues (e.g., pain, loss, trauma, and abuse) that caused them to use drugs in the first place.