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Shelley Starkey

Trump Announces More Action on Opioids at Summit

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Last Thursday, the White House held an Opioid Summit to discuss the Administration’s strategy for tackling the ongoing opioid crisis, which claimed more than 42,000 American lives and accounted for roughly two-thirds of drug overdose deaths in 2016. During his remarks, President Trump said, “The Administration is going to be rolling out policy over the next three weeks, and it will be very, very strong.” There was limited discussion of specific proposals, but it is expected the White House may bolster law enforcement agencies to carry out opioid-related activities.

At the Summit, attendees heard from administration officials, including the Surgeon General Jerome Adams, Acting Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Jim Carroll, HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and others. While some advocates have said the Administration’s responses have not gone far enough since the President’s declaration of a public health emergency last October, those gathered on Thursday sought to “highlight the progress the Administration has made to combat drug demand and the opioid crisis.”

Notably, Attorney General Sessions spoke about the Justice Department’s recent announcement that it will be filing a statement of interest regarding lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors around the country. President Trump was not specific  on which policies he will be pursuing in the coming weeks, but alluded to ramping up penalties for drug dealers.

The Summit comes at a time when many federal bodies are rolling out their own strategies to combat the epidemic. Congress is in the midst of considering multiple pieces of legislation, hearing from experts on the best ways to tackle the problem from various fronts, and committing $6 billion over the next two years to push back. Advocates, including those from the National Council, have also been calling for investing the available funds into desperately-needed addiction treatment and recovery supports.

Keep up to date on the latest news on the federal government’s response to the opioid epidemic with Capitol Connector.