Expert: President’s Opioid Declaration a ‘Missed Opportunity’

Brian Kelly (@brpkelly)

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – President Donald Trump’s declaration of the opioid crisis as a public health emergency is not impressing one of those fighting the scourge in St. Louis.

“It had no real teeth,” says Dan Duncan of the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. “It didn’t really mean much.”

Speaking on Friday’s Hancock and Kelley show on KMOX, Duncan called the declaration a “missed opportunity.”

“You get the feeling this administration doesn’t listen to experts in any given field.”

Duncan says if it did, instead of declaring a public health emergency, the president would have declared a national emergency, which would have freed up federal funding.

“If it’s a national emergency,” Duncan says, “the opioid epidemic response would have access to the $23 billion set aside for emergencies. Right now, the public health emergency fund at HHS is $57,000, which you might as well say is nothing.

“They’ve had ample opportunity to listen to experts about what we need to do to rein in this epidemic. Yesterday was a big show, but they didn’t really do what they said they were going to do.”

When asked if the public declaration might prompt Congress to take steps to add funding to the fight, Duncan was skeptical. “We’ve seen a lot of talk and I want to see action. Show me the money. Unfortunately, this is one of those things, like everything else I guess, without the will and resources, not much is going to change.”

As for the president’s talk about stepping up law enforcement efforts, Duncan says that’s a re-do of the “war on drugs,” which he says has been a failure for 40 years.

“It’s been a design failure, if you will, because the premise is that we wage this effort on the supply, because supply drives demand. It’s really just the opposite, demand drives supply.”

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