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Ind. Officials Respond To Trump’s Opioid Public Health Emergency

The Scott County temporary needle exchange has collected thousands of dirty needles.

President Trump declared a public health emergency to deal with the opioid epidemic Thursday. As NPR reports, the announcement frees up some resources for treatment:

More than 140 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We are currently dealing with the worst drug crisis in American history,” Trump said, adding, “it’s just been so long in the making. Addressing it will require all of our effort.”

“We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic,” he said.

Gov. Eric Holcomb (R-Ind.) applauded the decision.

“It will take an all-hands-on-deck approach with local, state and federal partners working together to attack this epidemic,” Holcomb said in a statement. “Today, our state is engaging every resource at our disposal and using a three-pronged approach to tackle this problem with prevention, treatment and enforcement. This latest commitment from the president builds on our strong partnerships with groups like the Pew Charitable Trusts and Indiana University to multiply the impact of our efforts and save more Hoosier lives.”

Indiana University recently announced a $50 million initiative aimed at combating the opioid crisis in Indiana.

“As an institution committed to preventing and reducing addictions in Indiana and beyond, we are encouraged to see the Trump administration taking steps to address our national opioid crisis,” said Vice President for Research Fred Cate in a statement. “Our vexing addiction challenges require federal, state and local-community leaders to more effectively collaborate so that we can better understand, address and resolve the myriad issues contributing to this tragic epidemic.”

State Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) says he is grateful for the public health emergency declaration.

“We are working diligently to kill this epidemic in Indiana, and now, we are finally addressing it on a national level,” Merritt said in a statement. “I commend the Trump administration for responding to and emphasizing the seriousness of this crisis.”

NPR reports public health emergencies expire after 90 days, although they can be easily renewed:

The designation gives the administration access to the Public Health Emergency Fund, but that fund is nearly empty.

In outlining its opioid plan, administration officials highlighted four areas. It allows expanded access to telemedicine services, giving doctors the ability to prescribe medications to treat addiction to those in remote locations. It speeds the hiring process for medical professionals working on opioids. And it allows funds in programs for dislocated workers and people with HIV/AIDS to be used to treat their addictions.

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