By Pat Anson, Editor
President Trump is calling for further reductions in the prescribing of opioid pain medication and for some drug dealers to get the death penalty.
In a speech in Manchester, New Hampshire, a state hit hard by the overdose epidemic, Trump outlined his plan to combat the nation’s opioid and addiction crisis by cracking down on drug dealers, opioid manufacturers and doctors who overprescribe pain medication.
“We’re going to cut nationwide opioid prescriptions by one third over the next three years,” Trump said. “We’re also going to make sure that virtually all prescriptions reimbursed by the federal government follow best practices for prescribing. We’ll ensure that opioid addiction is not subsidized by the American taxpayer. The best way to beat the drug crisis is to keep people from getting hooked on drugs to begin with.”
The president did not spell out precisely how opioid prescribing would be reduced. His administration has proposed new rules that would make it harder for Medicare beneficiaries to obtain high doses of opioid medication by rigidly adhering to the CDC’s voluntary opioid prescribing guidelines. Under the Medicare plan, insurers could refuse to pay for opioid prescriptions that exceed the dose levels recommended by the CDC.
Opioid prescriptions peaked in 2010 and the Drug Enforcement Administration has cut opioid production quotas nearly in half over the last two years – which has led to shortages of pain medication at some hospitals and hospices.
The president also said the nation “must get tough” with high volume drug traffickers.
“The ultimate penalty has to be the death penalty,” Trump said. “Drug traffickers kills so many thousands of our citizens every year and that’s why my Department of Justice will be seeking much tougher penalties than we’ve ever had. And we will be focusing on the penalty that we talked about previously for the big pushers, the ones that are really killing so many people.
"Whether you are a dealer or doctor or trafficker or a manufacturer, if you break the law and illegally peddle these deadly poisons, we will find you, we will arrest you, and we will hold you accountable."
Trump said tougher border security was needed to stop the flow of illegal drugs and called for an nationwide advertising campaign to encourage children to avoid drug use.
“Spending a lot of money on great commercials showing how bad it is,” he said.
Last October, the president declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency, a designation that stopped short of the national state of emergency sought by his opioid commission. Critics have said the Trump administration has done little to fund or execute a coherent strategy to combat the overdose problem.