President Donald Trump has declared the nationwide opioid crisis a public health emergency.
Calling the epidemic “a national shame”, President Trump announced a plan to target the abuse of opioids, which kill more than 140 Americans each day.
Donald Trump has previously promised to declare a national emergency, which would have triggered federal funding to help states combat the drug scourge.
The move instead redirects grant money to be used in dealing with the crisis.
On October 26, President Trump said at the White House: “More people are dying from drug overdoses today than from gun homicides and motor vehicles combined.
“These overdoses are driven by a massive increase in addiction to prescription painkillers, heroin and other opioids.”
The president added: “The United States is by far the largest consumer of these drugs using more opioid pills per person than any other country by far in the world.”
According to senior White House officials, Donald Trump is signing a presidential memorandum directing his acting health secretary to declare a nationwide public health emergency and ordering all federal agencies to take measures to reduce the number of opioid deaths.
The order will also ease some regulations to allow states more latitude in how they use federal funds to tackle the problem.
However, the White House plans to fund the effort through the Public Health Emergency Fund, which reportedly only contains $57,000.
The Trump administration will then work with Congress to approve additional funding in a year-end spending package, senior officials said.
Proponents suggest President Trump’s announcement is a critical step in raising awareness about the nationwide epidemic, while some critics argue the move does not go far enough.