- President Donald Trump's administration will roll out proposals to tackle the opioid crisis Monday during a trip to New Hampshire, including increased research and development for non-addictive pain treatments and a vaccine to prevent opioid addiction through a public-private partnership between the National Institutes of Health and pharmaceutical companies.
- With many of the recommendations from the White House Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis 2017 report, the plan will also call for a national prescription-drug monitoring program (PDMP), putting naloxone in the hands of more first responders and more.
- Trump's visit to the Granite State is the first of a flurry of activity from the government this week on opioids. Drug Enforcement Administration Acting Administrator Robert Patterson is set to testify Tuesday to the House Energy & Commerce Oversight Subcommittee, and on Wednesday the E&C Health Subcommittee will consider 25 bills during a two-day hearing aimed at fighting the crisis.
The opioid initiative will also take aim at over-prescription, illicit drug channels and inadequate access to evidence-based treatment, primary prevention and recovery support services.
The administration will launch a nationwide campaign to raise public awareness of the dangers of opioids. It also will implement a "Safer Prescribing Plan" aimed at reducing opioid prescription fills by one-third in three years, increasing best practice adherence for opioid prescriptions reimbursed by federal healthcare programs and using federal funding to help states transition to a nationally interoperable PDMP network.
The proposal does not explicitly call for additional funding to fight the crisis, but a senior administration official told reporters on a conference call on Sunday that the administration is in communication with congressional appropriators and expects more money to be allocated for treatment.
In addition, the plan will seek to expand medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction, which FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb backed in September.
The White House says that it will also ask Congress to pass legislation to allow Medicaid to reimburse resident treatment at facilities with more than 16 beds, and plans to continue to approve state demonstration projects that accomplish that goal in the interim.
The plan also instructs the Department of Justice to seek the death penalty against drug traffickers "where appropriate under current law," and calls for Congress to pass a bill that reduces the amount of drugs needed to invoke mandatory minimum sentences for those knowingly distributing certain illicit opioids.
"From helping those struggling with addiction on the road to recovery to providing resources to those on the front lines combating the crisis, we see great potential in these ideas, many of which track with our ongoing efforts." said E&C Chair Greg Walden, R-OR, Health Subcommittee Chair Michael Burgess, R-TX, and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Gregg Harper, R-MS, in a statement.
Earlier this month, a group of bipartisan senators unveiled what they deemed the CARA 2.0 Act, a follow-up to the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act.
It is unclear whether the bill will be ready to be included in an omnibus appropriations package as the House and Senate are considering different packages, according to Cowen Washington Research Group analysts.
According to a senior administration official, the opioid plan does not endorse safe injection sites. The official said the administration has not seen evidence that such sites prevent overdose deaths, but is still examining evidence and has no position on the idea currently.
The Trump initiative also makes no mention of a federal lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, which the president suggested recently may be on the horizon.
On Feb. 27, the DOJ announced it plans to file a statement of interest in a multi-district action for hundreds of opioid-related lawsuits seeking reimbursement.