President Barack Obama has announced new efforts to help states crack down on opioid abuse, while also launching a crackdown on the nation’s largest producer of the drug.
The White House on Thursday announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Justice Department will collaborate to investigate opioid manufacturers and distributors, and to bring criminal charges against anyone who provides opioids to someone who needs them.
“Our goal is to address the opioid crisis by reducing opioid addiction and its harms, while protecting the lives of our patients and the communities we serve,” Obama said in a statement.
“The opioid epidemic is a public health crisis, and we must address it now.”
The opioid crisis is a national public health emergency that’s sweeping the country.
According to the CDC, more than 5 million Americans have died of opioid overdoses this year.
“This is a war on drugs, and I will not allow this war on drug to be won,” Obama told a joint news conference with Attorney General Loretta Lynch at the White House.
“I want us to fight it in every way we can, to the fullest extent of the law, to try to get as many people off these addictive drugs as possible.”
Obama also announced the creation of a National Council on Heroin and Opioid Abuse, which will coordinate the efforts of the DEA and other federal agencies.
It will be chaired by the White, Justice and Homeland Security Departments.
The move came after the White house announced the hiring of former drug czar John Bolton, who has criticized the president for not doing enough to combat the opioid epidemic.
“These policies are not going to solve the opioid problem,” Bolton said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
“It’s going to take the political will and leadership of the president.”
In addition to taking action against opioid makers and distributors who distribute the opioid, Obama said the administration will also work to “make sure our state and local governments and the private sector are prepared to take these necessary steps to protect and serve communities.”
“These efforts will have significant, long-lasting impacts,” he said.
“In the coming months, we will be launching an initiative that will help states and localities make the most of their existing resources, while ensuring that our enforcement actions are directed at those who are doing the most to harm Americans, especially those who use the opioid,” he added.
Obama has been criticized for not taking a stronger stance against opioid addiction, particularly by Republicans who have complained that he hasn’t aggressively pursued the problem.
The opioid epidemic, though, has taken a toll on communities across the country, particularly the elderly and those with chronic conditions.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported in April that the number of opioid-related deaths increased 5.6 percent in 2014, the first year for which the data was available.
Last year, opioid overdose deaths among seniors and people with chronic medical conditions declined by nearly 25 percent, from 2,848 deaths to 1,723.
In April, President Trump ordered a nationwide crackdown on opioid manufacturers, distributors and dealers.
On Thursday, the White aced the executive order and the Justice Department said it would also cooperate with the federal government to prosecute anyone who supplies the opioid.
“We’ve got to get our message out and we’ve got more to do,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday.
“So that when we take the next step, we have the resources, we’ve created this Council on Opioids, and the federal leaders are going to continue to act.”