Attorney General Jeff Sessions told law enforcement officials Friday that America is facing its “deadliest drug crisis” in history.
An early government estimate pegged the amount of drug overdoes deaths in 2016 at 64,000. That’s a sharp increase from the 52,000 Americans who lost their lives from drug overdoses in 2015. “That would be the highest drug death toll and the fastest increase in that death toll in American history. And every day this crisis grows,” Sessions said in Harrisburg.
President Trump and his administration has sought to address the drug overdose epidemic that’s buoyed by an increase of opioid usage.
“In my home state of Alabama, we have had more painkiller prescriptions than Alabamians for over a decade,” Sessions said during his Friday speech.
The Justice Department has focused on combating drug abuse by targeting health care fraud, taking down the largest online drug market, and launching an Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit.
A group of House Democrats sent a letter to President Trump Tuesday asking that he follow through on a recommendation from a White House commission to deem the drug overdose crisis a national emergency.
The letter noted that declaring a national emergency would allow Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to “negotiate reduced pricing for all governmental units. This would give the government greater ability to distribute naloxone, an increasingly expensive life-saving drug.”
The White House’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, which is headed by Gov. Chris Christie, recommended, “We urge you to mandate, with federal assistance, that naloxone be in the hands of every law enforcement officer in the United States.”