President Donald Trump is officially declaring the growing opioid crisis a “public health emergency,” amplifying the status of a problem taking the lives of thousands of Americans each year.
Trump plans to deliver a speech Thursday to instruct the the Health and Human Services secretary to declare the opioid epidemic a public health emergency.
Trump hinted at the declaration in August, when he told reporters he intended to declare the opioid crisis a national emergency. The president also campaigned on fighting addiction when running for office last year.
"The opioid crisis is an emergency,” Trump said at the time. “We're going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis.
Declaring a public health emergency could persuade lawmakers to open up more resources to fight the abuse of opioids and give much-needed additional funding to combat the epidemic. The declaration would allow health officials to deploy state and federal workers to address the crisis.
According to CDC estimates, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. has nearly quadrupled since 1999, yet there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report. Deaths from prescription opioids—drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone—have more than quadrupled in that time.
Florida leaders have also pledged to take the opioid crisis seriously.
In September, Gov. Rick Scott announced a new $50 million proposal to combat opioid abuse in Florida. The legislation will hone in on ways the Sunshine State can work to fix a problem which has wreaked havoc on the lives of hundreds of thousands of Floridians.
The proposed legislation will limit how many pills Floridians can receive by restricting prescriptions to a three-day limit unless “strict conditions” are met for a seven-day supply.
Some pharmacies, like CVS, have already said they will restrict opioid prescriptions to seven-day supplies by the end of the year.
Prescribers and healthcare professionals will be required to participate in the Florida Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, a statewide database which monitors controlled prescriptions in Florida.
Florida will also continue its fight against pain management clinics and a portion of the $50 million would be funneled into substance abuse treatment, counseling and recovery services and the Florida Violent Crime and Drug Control Council.
Scott will push the proposal as part of the state’s budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.