Approximately 115 Americans die each day from an opioid overdose. Many more struggle through addiction, including all the negative health and behavioral impacts that it entails. Nearly 220 million prescriptions for opioids were written in 2016, despite the risks of these drugs being well known, and over 2.6 million are addicted to opiates.
Outside of the immediate health effects, drug trafficking and related crimes have sprung up in communities throughout America in order to cater to these addictions. And our country’s healthcare system, complicit in the creation of the crisis, hasn’t found a way to treat the outbreak.
The opioid crisis isn’t just a nationwide public health emergency – it’s a national crisis. Tens of thousands of people are dying each year, with millions more suffering from an addiction. Many of these people’s addictions started when they were prescribed these medications by a doctor. The human suffering caused by this crisis cannot be measured, and the economic damage is untold.
We must do more than declare this a crisis and hope the issue solves itself.
The federal government, through the Department of Health and Human Services, must find solutions to this emergency and coordinate with the states in its implementation. The CDC must use its expertise to quantify and combat this plague. The FDA must implement new steps to ensure that a similar crisis doesn’t develop in the future. Most of all, we have to fund treatment for everyday Americans.
However, the federal government must also recognize its limitations in this crisis. While funding research and solutions is something the federal government is good at, this epidemic is affecting people on an individual level. Local governments will be much better able to experiment with and implement solutions that will work for their communities. The federal government, through funding and centralization, can help the work of states and local communities in this crisis, but it should serve as a motivating and coordinating force in order to ensure adopted policies work for the people on the ground.
Let’s be honest - the opiate addiction crisis exists in large part because our government thought it was okay for companies to make a lot of money prescribing addictive opiates to millions of people. This was a failure of government. And now the Federal Government must do all it can to address this crisis, including funding treatment for millions of Americans. There is a modern-day plague in America and we cannot rest until it is controlled and defeated. Americans are dying every day—7 every hour—destroying families and communities everywhere. I will declare a state of emergency and commit billions of dollars to the fight, much of it from the drug companies who generated and have profited from this plague. If you or someone in your family has an opiate problem, we will provide you the resources you need to help you recover. We owe you that.
Problems to be Solved
- The opioid epidemic is destroying the lives of millions of people directly, and untold millions more through the impact they’re seeing of it on their loved ones.
- The regulation of drugs and the sale of those drugs for unintended uses must be improved.
- Treatment resources are lacking with only a fraction of addicts able to effectively recover from their addiction.
- Public Safety
- Reduce the production of and use of opioids for general pain management
- Provide treatment resources and options for those addicted to opioids, taking into account local cultural mores
- Prevent a similar crisis from developing in the future with stricter regulations on marketing and sales tactics
As President, I will…
- Declare a state of emergency and seek to bring down both the overdose numbers and the addiction levels by 20% within four years.
- Quintuple Federal funding, from $4.5 to $20 billion per year directed toward addiction treatment and rehabilitation for addictive opiates at the local levels.
- Impose a new tax on opiate manufacturers to fund treatment and rehabilitation, retroactive to 2005. The drug companies will pay to treat the conditions they have profited from.
- The FDA should allow only doctors who complete specialized education in pain management to prescribe opioids for more than a few days. All states should limit the size of prescriptions and require all opioid prescriptions to be made from hospitals instead of individual offices/practices. Right now our prescription rate is 4 times higher than in Europe – we need to bring it down. Doctors need to tell more patients that they’ll feel better on their own without having to take opiates.
- Direct the Dept. of Health and Human Services to focus their resources on combating the epidemic until it’s under control:
- Create a centralized database of solutions and effectiveness
- Create a centralized database of data to help analyze the trends of the opioid epidemic and better target resources
- Provide funding to localities to experiment with solutions that work for their communities
- Direct the FDA to regulate pharmaceutical company marketing tactics as much as they regulate the release of new drugs.
- Insurance companies should provide more oversight of prescriptions to curb abuse and report these measures to the Dept. of Health and Human Services.
- Overdose patients should be sent to mandatory treatment centers for three days to convince them to seek long-term treatment.
- Work with the DEA to enforce a much stricter limit on the number of opioid-based medications that can be produced in any given year and instruct manufacturers to report drugs prescribed in each community so as to monitor excess supply and probable abuse.
- Destigmatize medication-based treatment options for opiate addiction. We need to do whatever works best, including drugs that enable addicts to recover in stages.
- Allow local law enforcement authorities to selectively enforce criminal laws related to use and possession of opiates to facilitate treatment.
- Work to limit the importation of heroin and fentanyl, particularly from China. The Chinese government must do more to curb supply before it enters our country—we should negotiate for marked and demonstrated reductions in return for continued market access.