President Donald Trump said Tuesday that the government has no other alternative than to beat back the opioid crisis, which is causing thousands of fatal overdoses around the nation.
The president made the comments at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club before meeting with top officials about the issue. A recent New York Times report estimated that in 2016 there were between 59,000 and 65,000 deaths due to drug overdoses – more than the peak car crash deaths in 1972, or peak HI.V. deaths in 1995.
“I have had the opportunity to hear from many on the front lines of the opioid epidemic, and I’m confident that by working with our healthcare and law enforcement experts we will fight this deadly epidemic and the United States will win,” Trump said. “We’re also very, very tough on the southern border where much of this comes in, and we’re talking to China, where certain forms of man-made drug comes in and it is bad.”
He went on to say, “So, we’re going to do our job, we’re going to get it going. We’re going to have a tremendous team of experts and people that want to beat this horrible situation that has happened in our country — and we will. We will win. We have no alternative. We have to win for our youth.”
After the meeting, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway briefed the press. Price said that there will be a comprehensive strategy presented to President Trump soon and that all cabinet departments are working on the problem. Price is a former doctor, and stated that America needs to examine how it is treating pain.
Opioid addicts frequently start with pain medications and move onto heroin, which has been less expensive compared to previous years. Price said combatting the opioid epidemic is “an absolute priority of [Trump’s] administration.”
Lawsuits have been filed by states against pharmaceutical companies, which people have compared to the tobacco settlement from the 1990s. Price said the government has no position on these suits, but he noted the “lawsuits punctuate the damage and harm that people have felt because of this crisis.”