Trump’s long-awaited action on the national drug scourge includes no new funding. The New York Times castigated the president as clueless, suggesting that his call for “really big, really great advertising” to steer young people away from drugs recalls the failed “Just Say No” campaign of the Reagan era.
President Trump touted an advertising campaign as “our most important thing” in addressing the opioid crisis. But government and academic assessments of “Just Say No”-style anti-drug messages have shown they don’t work.
Scott Gottlieb, the new head of the Food and Drug Administration, advocates shorter-duration opioid prescriptions and increasing oversight of highly addictive immediate-release opioids to help reduce overdose deaths.
The crisis, which took over 64,000 lives last year, shows no sign of abating, according to a report by the Police Executive Research Forum. The report, based on an April conference of police chiefs and other law enforcement officials, said innovative strategies such as partnerships between police and healthcare providers could prevent the epidemic from spreading.
The president called the opioid problem a “national emergency” just last month. The prospects for funding to deal with it may be limited, in view of a clamor for funding to pay for damages by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Columbia University researchers say that fatally injured drivers who tested positive for prescription opioids rose sevenfold from 1995 to 2015. The principal investigator called it “cause for great concern.”
Missouri joins a growing list of states that have sued pharmaceutical firms. State Attorney General Josh Hawley says their “campaign of fraud and deception” led to the opioid crisis. The suit names the pharmaceutical firms Endo, Purdue and Janssen.
The state of Ohio spends more than $100 million a year for drugs used to treat opioid addiction, including 30,000 doses of Vivitrol in 2016 at a cost of $38 million. So far, there’s little scientific proof that the drugs work.
A single shot of Vivitrol, which is emerging as an antidote to the nation’s opioid crisis, lasts for four weeks and eliminates the need for the daily doses common with alternatives such as methadone. Each shot costs as much as $1,000, but experts say that may be cheaper in the long run for the care of addicted prisoners.