By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., announced that he supports President Donald Trump’s declaration of a public health emergency in regard to opioid addiction:
“I applaud the President and his Administration on their efforts to end the opioid epidemic,” Sen. Shelby said. “This is a real emergency, and it affects just about every community in our country. Senator Jeanne Shaheen and I have been working on our Appropriations Subcommittee to make sure that both law enforcement and the Justice Department have the tools they need to fight this epidemic. It is going to take a massive effort, and I fully support President Trump’s attention to this matter.”
Trump held a press conference to announce that the opioid crisis is a public health emergency. The growing epidemic regarding the misuse, abuse and addiction to certain prescription pain medications and other types of opioids in the United States, such as heroin, remains a concern for communities across the country. The prescription of opioid painkillers has been the driving force behind increased opioid usage and subsequent overdose related deaths.
“This crisis of drug use, addiction, and overdose deaths in many years, it’s just been so long in the making. Addressing it will require all of our effort and it will require us to confront the crisis in all of its very real complexity. Last year, we lost at least 64,000 Americans to overdoses. That’s 175 lost American lives per day. That’s seven lost lives per hour in our country. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of unintentional death in the United States by far. More people are dying from drug overdoses today than from gun homicides and motor vehicles combined. Think of it — motor vehicle crashes, gun homicides, more people by far from drug overdoses,” Pres. Trump said.
“These overdoses are driven by a massive increase in addiction to prescription painkillers, heroin, and other opioids,” Trump said. “Last year, almost 1 million Americans used heroin, and more than 11 million abused prescription opioids. The United States is by far the largest consumer of these drugs, using more opioid pills per person than any other country by far in the world. Opioid overdose deaths have quadrupled since 1999 and now account for the majority of fatal drug overdoses. As Americans, we cannot allow this to continue. We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic. Effective today, my administration is officially declaring the opioid crisis a national public health emergency under federal law, and why I am directing all executive agencies to use every appropriate emergency authority to fight the opioid crisis.”
“A new policy to overcome a restrictive 1970s-era rule that prevents states from providing care at certain treatment facilities with more than 16 beds for those suffering from drug addiction. We’re working with doctors and medical professionals to implement best practices for safe opioid prescribing. We are requiring federally employed prescribers to receive, finally, special training. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched a prescription awareness campaign to put faces on the danger of opioid abuse. I want to acknowledge CVS Caremark for announcing last month that it will limit certain first-time opioid prescriptions to seven-day supplies, among other important reforms,” the president announced.
The president said that, “The FDA is now requiring drug companies that manufacture prescription opioids to provide more training to prescribers. We are requiring that a specific opioid, which is truly evil, be taken off the market immediately. The U.S. Postal Service and the Department of Homeland Security are strengthening the inspection of packages coming into our country to hold back the flood of cheap and deadly fentanyl, a synthetic opioid manufactured in China and 50 times stronger than heroin. And in two weeks, I will be in China with President Xi, and I will mention this as a top priority. I will be looking at the potential of the federal government bringing major lawsuits against bad actors. We’re also supporting first responders’ and medical professionals’ access to the tools they need to prevent deaths through life-saving overdose medications. At my direction, the National Institute of Health, headed up by Francis Collins, has taken the first steps of an ambitious public-private partnership with pharmaceutical companies to develop non-addictive painkillers and new treatments for addiction and overdose. One of the things our administration will be doing is a massive advertising campaign to get people, especially children, not to want to take drugs in the first place.”
“The fact is, if we can teach young people — and people, generally — not to start, it’s really, really easy not to take them. And I think that’s going to end up being our most important thing. Really tough, really big, really great advertising, so we get to people before they start,” Trump said. “We are already distributing nearly $1 billion in grants for adiction prevention and treatment, and over $50 million dollars to support law enforcement programs that assist those facing prison and facing addiction. We have also launched an $81 million partnership to research better pain management techniques for our incredible veterans. I am urging all Americans to help fight this opioid epidemic and the broader issue of drug addiction by participating in the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day this Saturday.”
“For too long, we have allowed drugs to ravage American homes, cities, and towns. We owe it to our children and our country to do everything in our power to address this national shame and this human tragedy,” Trump said. “For too long, dangerous criminal cartels have been allowed to infiltrate and spread throughout our nation. An astonishing 90 percent of the heroin in America comes from south of the border, where we will be building a wall which will greatly help in this problem. We also have to work with other countries to stop these drugs where they originate.”
Shelby is the chairman of the Senate Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee. In the FY2017 CJS Appropriations bill, Chairman Shelby secured $276.5 million to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Prisons and Department of Justice grants to combat the nation’s drug addiction and opioid crisis.
To read the president’s full statement: