President Trump declares opioid crisis a 'national emergency'

BEDMINSTER, N.J. – President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a national emergency Thursday, a designation that would offer states and federal agencies more resources and power to combat the epidemic.

In a statement released late in the day, the White House said, "building upon the recommendations in the interim report from the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, President Donald J. Trump has instructed his Administration to use all appropriate emergency and other authorities to respond to the crisis caused by the opioid epidemic."

"The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I am saying, officially, right now, it is an emergency. It's a national emergency," Trump said earlier at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. "We're going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis. It is a serious problem the likes of which we have never had."

Trump's actions come just two days after Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price suggested declaring a national emergency was unnecessary.

"We believe that at this point, the resources that we need or the focus that we need to bring to bear to the opioid crises can be addressed without the declaration of an emergency," Price said, "although all things are on the table for the president."

The White House commission examining the nation's opioid epidemic had told Trump last week that declaring a national public health emergency would be an immediate help in combating the ongoing crisis.

"Our citizens are dying. We must act boldly to stop it," the commission, headed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, said in its interim report. "The first and most urgent recommendation of this Commission is direct and completely within your control. Declare a national emergency."

Among the other recommendations were to rapidly increase treatment capacity for those who need substance abuse help; to establish and fund better access to medication-assisted treatment programs; and to make sure that health care providers are aware of the potential for misuse and abuse of prescription opioids by enhancing prevention efforts at medical and dental schools.