"The best way to prevent drug addiction and overdose is to prevent people from abusing drugs in the first place. If they don't start, they won't have a problem." – President Donald J. Trump
President Trump has declared the "Opioid Crisis" a nationwide public health emergency. This action will allow for "expanded access to telemedicine services" to remotely prescribe medicines for substance abuse, allow the Department of Health and Human Services to "more quickly make temporary appointments of specialists with the tools and talent needed to respond effectively to our Nation's ongoing public health emergency", allow the Department of Labor to issue dislocated worker grants for those "displaced from the workforce" due to the Opioid Crisis, and will help people with HIV/AIDS to receive substance abuse treatment. The press release lists several actions that the Trump Administration has taken to respond to the Opioid Crisis, including the July 2017 law enforcement action against AlphaBay.
The declaration has been criticized for not requesting any funds to respond to the Crisis. The "nationwide public health emergency" declaration is also distinct from a promised "national emergency declaration", which would have freed up money from the Disaster Relief Fund to be spent on the Crisis. 14 Senate Democrats have introduced a bill that would authorize $45 billion to address the Opioid Crisis. The Obama Administration called on Congress last year to pass just over $1 billion in funding for opioid treatment programs nationwide. This funding was included in the 21st Century Cures Act.
The Department of Justice has arrested and charged the founder and majority owner of Insys Therapeutics Inc., John Kapoor, along with other executives from his company. Kapoor is accused with leading a nationwide conspiracy to bribe doctors and illegally distribute the company's fentanyl spray, intended for cancer patients, so that it could be prescribed for non-cancer patients. Kapoor stepped down as CEO of Insys in January. Acting U.S. Attorney William D. Weinreb said, "Mr. Kapoor and his company stand accused of bribing doctors to overprescribe a potent opioid and committing fraud on insurance companies solely for profit. Today's arrest and charges reflect our ongoing efforts to attack the opioid crisis from all angles. We must hold the industry and its leadership accountable - just as we would the cartels or a street-level drug dealer." Six former Insys executives and managers were charged in December.
[takyon: a262 would like you to know that Insys Therapeutics donated $500,000 to help defeat Arizona's 2016 ballot initiative that would have legalized recreational use of cannabis.]
Walgreens has announced that it will stock Narcan® (naloxone) nasal spray in all of its over 8,000 pharmacies nationwide. Naloxone is a life-saving essential medicine that can reverse opioid overdoses and treat opioid withdrawal. Naloxone is available over-the-counter in 45 states, but still requires a prescription in Hawaii, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, and Wyoming. Delaware recently allowed over-the-counter sales of naloxone. Laws in Hawaii and Missouri are pending, and Montana has agreed to grant CVS wider access to the drug.
Maybe banning kratom was a mistake.
Nationwide Public Health Emergency: Also at NYT, BBC, Reuters, and Fox News.
Insys Therapeutics Inc.: Also at NPR and Bloomberg.
Walgreens Narcan: Also at NPR, ABC, and CBS.
Previously: 4/20: The Third Time's Not the CharmJeff Sessions Reboots the Drug WarDevelopment of a Heroin VaccineGoal of US's First Opioid Court: Keep People AliveChicago Jail Handing Out Naloxone to Inmates Upon Release
All of those are potential parts of a solution. I'll believe the feds are serious about actually solving the problem when they let go of their sacred cows. Part of the problem is that for way too much of law enforcement and even the justice system, justice was long ago forgotten. Today it's all about hunting people and locking them in cages. Guilt, innocence, and justice are irrelevant to them. Decriminalizing any drugs means only that they lose a perfectly good excuse to exert their authority.