[Pharmwaste] Where is the declared opioid emergency?

Ed Gottlieb EGottlieb at cityofithaca.org
Mon Aug 28 09:38:52 EDT 2017

Despite Trump's words, no opioid crisis emergency yet
Speaking of emergencies: It’s now been more than two weeks since President Trump said his administration was drawing up the paperwork to declare the opioid crisis a national emergency, but one has yet to go into effect. So what gives? It seems that the administration wasn’t ready when Trump said that an emergency was being declared, and a White House spokesperson told STAT Friday that a legal review is ongoing, presumably meaning that officials are still deciding under which law to declare an emergency and what authorities to grant. “The president’s policy advisors are working through the details with all of the relevant components and agencies,” the spokesperson said.


Trump to declare national emergency over opioids two days after top aide rejected notion
By Andrew Joseph @DrewQJoseph
/August 10, 2017
President Trump on Thursday said his administration would declare the opioid crisis a national emergency, just two days after his top health official said, after meeting with the president, that such a step was not necessary.
Trump’s remarks came after his commission on combatting drug abuse issued an “urgent” recommendation last week that he issue an emergency declaration.
It’s still unclear what the emergency declaration will look like. The laws that govern such declarations stipulate that the president himself spell out what resources will become available and what new authorities the administration will take on.
“We’re going to draw it up and we’re going to make it a national emergency,” Trump told reporters in New Jersey. “It is a serious problem the likes of which we have never had.”
“But this is a national emergency and we are drawing documents now to so attest,” he added.
How U.S. states have used emergency declarations to fight the opioid epidemic
The declaration could help the government negotiate lower prices for naloxone, the overdose reversal medication, but many experts and advocates have said that it would likely be more of a symbolic step and public education tool. Under laws that outline national emergencies, the government can open up additional funding to states and provide technical assistance and manpower to places where local and state resources have been overwhelmed. But major initiatives to expand treatment options, promote more research, and boost funding would still require congressional action or initiatives from federal agencies.
“I think the question really becomes, not that you just say it, but what are the actions behind it? What are the series of actions that you’re going to take as a result of that declaration?” Michael Botticelli, who ran the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President Obama, told STAT earlier this week. “There is some merit to it, but only if that brings along with it real meaningful action.”
On Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said the administration felt like it had enough resources and focus without needing to declare an emergency, although he added that the option was still on the table.
National emergencies tend to be declared after natural disasters or to stop the spread of infectious diseases. Experts have questioned how officials will be able to measure the effectiveness of an emergency for the opioid crisis and how they will know when to declare it over, given that the opioid epidemic is expected to remain a public health crisis for years to come.
Six states have announced their own opioid-related public health emergency or disaster declarations in recent years, and a seventh, Indiana, issued a declaration to respond to an HIV outbreak that was driven by injection drug abuse.
Some advocates have said that even if the emergency declaration alone does not ease the crisis, it could rally Congress and federal officials to bolster their response even with authorities they already have. But not everyone sees a declaration under the Trump administration as a certain positive step.
“Would this administration use a declaration of a national emergency to further an agenda that places at its center health-based solutions, or would it then turn around and say, we have an emergency, we need draconian legislation like sentencing laws, or crackdowns on people who use or misuse opioids?” asked Grant Smith, deputy director at the Drug Policy Alliance. “The latter would be more in line with how the administration has handled its drug policy to date, more than the former.”
STAT forecast: Opioids could kill nearly 500,000 Americans in the next decade:

Ed Gottlieb
Chair, Coalition for Safe Medication Disposal
Board Member, New York Product Stewardship Council
Industrial Pretreatment Coordinator
Ithaca Area Wastewater Treatment Facility
525 3rd Street
Ithaca, NY  14850
(607) 273-8381
fax: (607) 273-8433
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