Trump Signs Legislation Aiming To Take On Opioid Crisis

This week, President Trump signed legislation aiming to help citizens overcome opioid addictions and prevent formation of addictions before they start. The signing of the Support for Patients and Communities Act was the result of overwhelming bipartisan support and will hopefully have great impact on the opioid crisis occurring in America.

This new legislation will expand existing opioid telemedicine services, allowing more struggling addicts to utilize technology in seeking the help they need. The act will also change policies regarding electronic prescriptions and post-operative pain management. The bill also allows states to seek federal reimbursement through Medicaid for telemedicine services relating to drug abuse, including counseling, medication adherence and management, and treatments. This act aims to target those in high-risk demographics such as American Indians and Native Alaskans, adults under the age of 40, those with mental illnesses and substance abuse history, and individuals who have experienced non-fatal overdoses in the past.

Trump invited 21 large corporations to the White House for the signing, including Johnson & Johnson, Google, Facebook and Amazon. “Together we are going to end the scourge of drug addiction in America,” said Trump at a White House event celebrating the signing. “We are going to end it or we are going to at least make an extremely big dent in this terrible, terrible problem.”

This act aims largely to challenge the over prescription of opioids and authorize the government to research alternative non-addictive drugs that can be used in pain management. The Support for Patients and Communities Act also includes measures seeking to reduce shipments of illegal drugs to the US from foreign countries.

“It will help in terms of both reducing some of this poison coming into our communities, but it also helps with regard to getting people into treatment,” said Rob Portman, a Republican Ohio Senator. Portman was a leading figure in the passing of this legislation in the Senate.

In a White House issued statement, Deputy Director James Carroll of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) said, “From day one of this Administration, President Trump has called upon a whole of government approach to combat our addiction crisis. That call has been manifested into today’s bill signing. This historic package makes meaningful reforms to keep illicit drugs out of our communities, better monitor prescribing, prevent addiction and help those suffering with a substance use disorder get the treatment and recovery support they need. It also reauthorizes ONDCP so that we can continue our mission and coordinate across the federal government.”

With opioids killing over 115 Americans a day, the opioid crisis in America has become a pressing issue affecting citizens, prescribing physicians, and the pharmaceutical industry. Data from 2017 showed that more than 72,000 citizens died from drug overdoses, a sharp increase from the 64,000 reported deaths in 2016. Alex Azar, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, states that the annual number of fatal overdoses is potentially beginning to level off. Many are hopeful that the signing of the Support for Patients and Communities Act will expedite this decrease in opioid abuse.

Sources: NPR, MobiHealthNews, White House