Huffington Post | August 7, 2017
We are writing today urging President Trump to heed the advice of the bipartisan White House Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis and declare the opioid epidemic a National Emergency.
The declaration of a National Emergency would give this epidemic the full attention it deserves and allow states to access federal resources to act swiftly and definitively to save the lives of more than 33,000 Americans annually through evidence-based treatments and programs that have been proven to work.
Each day, 142 people die in our country from a drug overdose. The number of opioid overdoses has quadrupled, along with the number of opioid prescriptions, over the last two decades. Today more people die from drug overdoses than from car accidents, guns or falls. More broadly, the addiction epidemic affects 1 in 3 American families in every town and city across the country and does not discriminate based on race or political affiliations. This critical public health situation demands extraordinary measures.
For example, we have an antidote for overdose called Naloxone. Rapid administration of this drug reverses opioid overdose and prevents death. Unfortunately, the cost of Naloxone has increased dramatically and has proven a barrier to access. One product skyrocketed from $690 to $4500. In a hurricane we don’t allow stores to gouge consumers for gas or water and the same should be true for life-saving drugs in this opioid emergency. Although Naloxone needs to be in the kits of every first responder, our government is not allowed to negotiate national prices that would make this possible. A National Emergency declaration would allow the secretary of Department of Health and Human Services to pursue solutions and ensure the medication is affordable and accessible.