No declaration of national emergency: 5 key takeaways from the presidential opioid epidemic briefing

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President Donald Trump declined his opioid commission's recommendation to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency during a press briefing held Tuesday at his golf estate in Bedminster, N.J., reports STAT.

Here are five key takeaways from the briefing.

1. On the opioid commission's main recommendation: On July 31, the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, established by the president via executive order in March, issued its interim report, recommending President Trump declare the crisis a national emergency. The commission believed this measure would empower the presidential "cabinet to take bold steps and would force Congress to focus on funding and empowering the executive branch even further to deal with this loss of life." However, the president did not make such a declaration during the press briefing.

"[W]e believe that, a[t] this point, that the resources that we need, or the focus that we need to bring to bear to the opioid crisis at this point can be addressed without the declaration of an emergency, although all things are on the table for the President," said HHS Secretary Tom Price, MD, during the event.

2. On opioid epidemic lawsuits: Dr. Price also said the Trump administration is taking no position on the recent lawsuits filed by state attorney generals against drugmakers and distributors regarding their role in the opioid epidemic.

"There isn't a position that the administration has on these suits at this point. But it has clearly gotten the attention of the pharmaceutical companies," said Dr. Price.

3. On the importance of law enforcement: While no new policies were rolled out during the event, President Trump did place a heavy emphasis on the importance of law enforcement in addressing the opioid crisis.

"Strong law enforcement is absolutely vital to having a drug-free society," said President Trump, according to the Los Angeles Times. "I have had the opportunity to hear from many on the front lines of the opioid epidemic, and I'm confident that by working with our healthcare and law enforcement experts we will fight this deadly epidemic and the United States will win."

4. On the HHS response: Dr. Price told reporters HHS's strategy in addressing this crisis includes providing best practices and resources to states on information for prevention, treatment and recovery of opioid addiction, and improving access to the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone

5. On scientific advances: Dr. Price said the National Institutes of Health has a research arm dedicated to addressing this crisis through various strategies, including the development of pain medication that is not euphoric or addictive.

"One of the exciting things that they're actually working on is a vaccine for addiction, which is an incredibly exciting prospect," said Dr. Price.

More articles on opioids: 
Opioid overdose deaths could be higher than CDC numbers indicate, study finds 
Physicians from lower-tier med schools prescribe more opioids 
Insys Therapeutics may settle Illinois opioid lawsuit for up to $4.5M: 5 things to know

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