The White House on Monday unveiled President Donald Trump’s Initiative to Stop Opioids Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand. The three-pronged strategy will target the factors identified as fueling the opioid crisis.
First Lady Melania Trump spoke of her visit last month to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Ohio. She discussed research conducted on neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), which occurs in newborns who are exposed to opioids before they are born.
“In my role as First Lady, much of my focus has been towards understanding the negative effects the opioid epidemic is having on our children and young mothers,” First Lady Trump said at Manchester Community College in New Hampshire. “Many young mothers are not even aware of this disease, so we must continue educating them about the real dangers of opioids on unborn babies.”
Prevention and education are included in the third part of the strategy, which also plans to end over-prescription, targeting illicit drug supplies, increasing access to evidence-based treatment and recovery support services.
“Real progress is also being made because of the hard work by doctors and nurses across the country who have taken special interest to research and offer resources for those addicted to opioids,” First Lady Trump added.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions praised the plan, which will rely on his department to implement. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has and will continue to crack down on over-prescribers and the illicit drug trade that was allowed to prosper in the absence of border security.
“Drug dealers show no respect for human dignity and put their own greed ahead of the safety and even the lives of others. Drug trafficking is an inherently violent and deadly business: if you want to collect a drug debt, you collect it with the barrel of a gun,” Attorney General Sessions said. “As surely as night follows day, violence and death follow drug trafficking, and murder is often a tool of drug traffickers.”
“At the Department of Justice, we have made ending the drug epidemic a priority,” he said. “We will continue to aggressively prosecute drug traffickers and we will use federal law to seek the death penalty wherever appropriate.”
The outlined plan, which was provided by the White House, can be read in full below:
REDUCE DEMAND AND OVER-PRESCRIPTION: President Trump’s Opioid Initiative will educate Americans about the dangers of opioid and other drug use and seek to curb over-prescription.
- Launch a nationwide evidence-based campaign to raise public awareness about the dangers of prescription and illicit opioid use, as well as other drug use.
- Support research and development efforts for innovative technologies and additional therapies designed to prevent addiction and decrease the use of opioids in pain management.
- This will include supporting research and development for a vaccine to prevent opioid addiction and non-addictive pain management options.
- Reduce the over-prescription of opioids which has the potential to lead Americans down a path to addiction or facilitate diversion to illicit use.
- Implement a Safer Prescribing Plan to achieve the following objectives:
- Cut nationwide opioid prescription fills by one-third within three years.
- Ensure that 75 percent of opioid prescriptions reimbursed by Federal healthcare programs are issued using best practices within three years, and 95 percent within five years.
- Ensure that at least half of all Federally-employed healthcare providers adopt best practices for opioid prescribing within two years, with all of them doing so within five years.
- Leverage Federal funding opportunities related to opioids to ensure that States transition to a nationally interoperable Prescription Drug Monitoring Program network.
CUT OFF THE SUPPLY OF ILLICIT DRUGS: President Trump’s Opioid Initiative will crack down on international and domestic illicit drug supply chains devastating American communities:
- Keep dangerous drugs out of the United States.
- Secure land borders, ports of entry, and water ways against illegal smuggling.
- Require advance electronic data for 90 percent of all international mail shipments (with goods) and consignment shipments within three years, in order for the Department of Homeland Security to flag high-risk shipments.
- Identify and inspect high-risk shipments leveraging advanced screening technologies and by using drug-detecting canines.
- Test and identify suspicious substances in high-risk international packages to quickly detect and remove known and emerging illicit drugs before they can cause harm.
- Engage with China and expand cooperation with Mexico to reduce supplies of heroin, other illicit opioids, and precursor chemicals.
- Advance the Department of Justice (DOJ) Prescription Interdiction and Litigation (PIL) Task Force to fight the prescription opioid crisis. The PIL Task Force will:
- Expand the DOJ Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit’s efforts to prosecute corrupt or criminally negligent doctors, pharmacies, and distributors.
- Aggressively deploy appropriate criminal and civil actions to hold opioid manufacturers accountable for any unlawful practices.
- Shut down illicit opioid sales conducted online and seize any related assets.
- Scale up internet enforcement efforts under DOJ’s new Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement (J-CODE) team.
- Strengthen criminal penalties for dealing and trafficking in fentanyl and other opioids:
- DOJ will seek the death penalty against drug traffickers, where appropriate under current law.
- The President also calls on Congress to pass legislation that reduces the threshold amount of drugs needed to invoke mandatory minimum sentences for drug traffickers who knowingly distribute certain illicit opioids that are lethal in trace amounts.
HELP THOSE STRUGGLING WITH ADDICTION: President Trump’s Opioid Initiative will help those struggling with addiction through evidence-based treatment and recovery support services:
- Work to ensure first responders are supplied with naloxone, a lifesaving medication used to reverse overdoses.
- Leverage Federal funding opportunities to State and local jurisdictions to incentivize and improve nationwide overdose tracking systems that will help resources to be rapidly deployed to hard-hit areas.
- Expand access to evidence-based addiction treatment in every State, particularly Medication-Assisted Treatment for opioid addiction.
- Seek legislative changes to the law prohibiting Medicaid from reimbursing residential treatment at certain facilities with more than 16 beds.
- In the meantime, continue approving State Medicaid demonstration projects that waive these barriers to inpatient treatment.
- Provide on-demand, evidence-based addiction treatment to service members, veterans and their families eligible for healthcare through the Departments of Defense or Veterans Affairs.
- Leverage opportunities in the criminal justice system to identify and treat offenders struggling with addiction.
- Screen every Federal inmate for opioid addiction at intake.
- For those who screen positive and are approved for placement in residential reentry centers, facilitate naltrexone treatment and access to treatment prior to and while at residential reentry centers and facilitate connection to community treatment services as needed.
- Scale up support for State, Tribal, and local drug courts in order to provide offenders struggling with addiction access to evidence-based treatment as an alternative to or in conjunction with incarceration, or as a condition of supervised release.