Buchanan: Opioid Crisis a “Public Health Emergency”
Buchanan’s District at Epicenter of Crisis
WASHINGTON – Congressman Vern Buchanan said today President Trump’s decision to designate the opioid crisis a “public health emergency” is a positive step in the battle to contain the growing problem of drug addiction.
Buchanan noted that two of the three counties he represents, Manatee and Sarasota, are at the epicenter of the drug crisis in Florida. Those counties had the highest and second-highest number of fentanyl-related deaths per capita in the state in 2015, according to the Florida Medical Examiners Commission.
“This is a public health emergency,” Buchanan said. “Our local communities need the resources necessary to confront the problem and the President’s designation will help make that possible.”
A formal declaration of a public health emergency, coming today from President Trump, gives the White House additional powers to waive certain health regulations, pay for treatment programs and make overdose-reversing drugs more widely available. Senior administration officials say the move would also expand access to treatment and beef up staff at the Department of Health and Human Services to help states address the epidemic.
Florida had the fourth-highest number of drug deaths of any state in the country last year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC also said that last year saw a record-high 64,000 opioid deaths nationwide – a 22 percent increase over the previous record set in 2015 with 52,000 opioid deaths.
Earlier this week the U.S. House passed legislation co-sponsored by Buchanan to combat the opioid crisis. The INTERDICT Act will help stem the flow of fentanyl and other drugs by providing border agents with drug-detecting chemical screening devices at ports of entry and more personnel, including scientists, to detect drugs being sent into the U.S. from Mexico, China and other countries.