President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency after a recommendation by his commission on the matter, just two days after Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price said the United States would not do so.
“The opioid crisis is an emergency and I’m saying officially right now it is an emergency,” Trump told reporters in Bedminster, N.J. on Thursday. “We’re going to draw it up and we’re going to make it a national emergency. It is a serious problem, the likes of which we have never had.”
The White House report on the epidemic says that 142 Americans die of drug overdoses every day, and urges measures like federal legislation that would boost widespread adoption of naloxone, an opioid overdose antidote. Declaring a national emergency could help deliver additional funds and more access to treatment and gives the government more flexibility to act quickly.
“We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis,” Trump said. “This is a worldwide problem, not just a United States problem.”