President Donald Trump called on the Department of Health and Human Services to declare the U.S. opioid crisis a public health emergency and to take steps to combat the epidemic of addiction and overdose caused by prescription painkillers. As part of the announcement, the President directed federal health agencies to begin taking new steps to combat the opioid epidemic, which has ravaged the U.S. over the past two decades.
According to a study by the United Nations released earlier this year, Americans use more painkillers than any other country in the developed world, leading to an unprecedented number of cases of abuse, addiction, dependency, and overdose. About 59,000 Americans died in 2016 as a result of opioid overdoses, according to records from health agencies across the country.
“No part of our society — not young or old, rich or poor, urban or rural — has been spared this plague of drug addiction and this horrible, horrible situation that’s taken place with opioids,” President Trump said. “This epidemic is a national health emergency.”
By designating the opioid epidemic as a “health emergency,” President Trump would enable acting health secretary Eric D. Hargan to use grant money to prevent opioid abuse, hire specialists to deal with the opioid crisis, and increase the use of telemedicine services to help opioid users in areas where there are fewer doctors. The President stopped short of declaring the opioid epidemic a “national emergency,” which would have enabled a more rapid and sizeable response to the crisis.
President Trump also announced that the federal government would launch an advertising campaign in order to help prevent patients from becoming addicted to opioid painkillers. The President cited the advice of his brother Fred, who struggled with alcohol abuse, as a reason why he has avoided alcohol during his life.
The President said that his plan to deal with the opioid epidemic would require federally licensed prescribers to be trained in safe practices for dispensing opioid prescriptions. The plan would also launch a new federal initiative to develop non-addictive alternatives to opioid drugs already on the market, increase efforts to block shipments of the painkiller fentanyl from China, and suspend a federal rule that prevents Medicaid funding for many drug rehabilitation centers.
Law enforcement officials and medical experts said that President Trumps plan was a good first step in dealing with the U.S. opioid epidemic. However, critics said that stronger measures – including federal funding to combat the crisis – were needed in order to reduce the number of Americans killed by opioid overdoses each year.
Andrew Kolodny, co-director of opioid policy research at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management, said that “what we need is for the president to seek an appropriation from Congress” in the “billions” to ”rapidly expand access for effective outpatient opioid addiction treatments.” Kolodny said that “until those treatments are easier to access than heroin or fentanyl, overdose deaths will remain at record-high levels.”
President Trump’s announcement of new measures to combat the U.S. opioid crisis fulfilled a campaign promise to help residents of rural America, which have been devastated by opioids over the last two decades. In March, the President appointed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to lead a federal commission to tackle the issue of opioids. In July, that commission recommended that the President declare the opioid crisis a “national emergency.”
If you have lost a loved one to an overdose caused by opioid painkillers, you may qualify to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the drug or the doctor or hospital that issued the prescription. The first step in taking legal action is to discuss your case with an attorney to learn more your legal rights and review the first steps in filing a case.
The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have filed hundreds of lawsuits on behalf of patients who harmed by opioid painkillers. Our law firm has settled more cases involving the powerful opioid fentanyl than all other law firms in the U.S. combined. Heygood, Orr & Pearson has also represented hundreds of patients who were victims of an opioid overdose.
For more information about filing an opioid overdose lawsuit and to find out whether you may be eligible to file a case, contact Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us by following the link to our free case evaluation form and answering a few brief questions about your case to get started.