HHS MD Secretary Claims Opioid Abuse Not a National Emergency
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Tuesday, August 08, 2017 09:07 PM

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price, MD said the Trump administration could effectively battle opioid abuse without declaring it an official national emergency, a step recommended by a White House commission on the epidemic.

In a news conference following a briefing with President Donald J. Trump on the subject, Dr Price said the president “is absolutely committed to solving that problem" and treating it as an emergency. However, “we believe at this point that the resources we need or the focus we need to bring to bear on the opioid crisis can be addressed without a declaration of emergency, but all things are on the table for the president," Dr Price said.

He noted that national emergencies declared by previous administrations involved “time-limited problems or specific threats to public health." Examples include the Zika virus and Hurricane Sandy.

Dr Price's comments run counter to what the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis said in an interim report released on July 31. The commission urged the president to declare the opioid abuse epidemic a national emergency under the Public Health Service Act or the Stafford Act. This was its “first and most urgent recommendation” in the face of 142 Americans dying each day from overdoses, which over 3 weeks would equal the death toll of the September 11 terrorist attacks, according to the commission.

Source: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/883970