Since President Trump took office, an estimated 25,000 people have died from an opioid overdose
Washington (October 26, 2017) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) released the following statement after President Donald Trump announced this afternoon that he is declaring a public health emergency in response to the nation’s ongoing opioid epidemic. However, the President did not request any emergency funding from Congress to address this growing epidemic, which caused more than 33,000 deaths in 2015, a number that is anticipated to be higher for 2016. In fact, the President announced he would reallocate funding from HIV/AIDS programs for substance use disorder treatment. Yesterday, Senators Markey and Bob Casey (D-Penn.) introduced the Combatting the Opioid Epidemic Act, which would invest $45 billion for prevention, detection, monitoring, and treatment of opioids. This summer, Senate Republicans proposed providing that same amount for the crisis as part of their Better Care Reconciliation Act.
“America is hemorrhaging lives by the day because of the opioid epidemic, but President Trump offered the country a Band-Aid when we need a tourniquet. Today’s announcement is nothing more than a dog-and-pony show in an attempt to demonstrate the Trump administration is not ignoring this crisis.
“Instead of a commitment to emergency funding for our states and communities, President Trump offered empty words and half measures. We need continued and reliable long-term investments in prevention, treatment, and monitoring to address this scourge. That’s why I’ve introduced legislation to invest $45 billion to combat the opioid crisis, and I call on Congressional Republican leadership to bring this legislation to the floor. We need recovery services, not President Trump’s lip service.
“Additionally, the Administration’s proposal to reallocate funding from HIV/AIDS programs to the opioid crisis is robbing Peter to pay Paul, especially as HIV and AIDS rates spike due to increased heroin and fentanyl use.
“A wall at our border will do nothing to stop the flow drugs across our border. Instead, we need to equip our border agents with advanced scanning equipment that can identify and stop heroin and illicit fentanyl from entering the country. We also need to mandate all prescribers receive education about opioid painkillers and how to responsibly prescribe them. We need better data collection through the Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs. We need to enforce mental health parity. And we need to hold Big Pharma accountable for flooding our communities with addictive opioid painkillers.
“The Trump administration formula for the opioid crisis is clear: empty words, broken promises and no real action. I will continue to fight for the resources Massachusetts and all states need to combat this national emergency.”
In August, Senator Markey called on President Trump to declare a national public health emergency to help the federal government respond to the prescription and illicit opioid overdose crisis, as recommended by the President’s Commission. A month later, Senator Markey led a group of ten Senators in querying the President about his delay in making the declaration and other actions his administration planned to take to respond to this public health crisis.
On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed companion legislation to the International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology (INTERDICT) Act, legislation Senator Markey introduced to equip the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to detect and interdict illicit fentanyl and other synthetic opioids at the borders. He also has introduced legislation to mandate education for opioid prescribers and increase transparency on opioid quotas produced by manufacturers.