Oct 24, 2018 - Health

Trump's new efforts to combat the opioid crisis

President Trump at a podium.

President Trump speaking about his plan to confront the opioid crisis, in March. Photo: Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The number of overdose deaths in the U.S. “has begun to plateau,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said yesterday, in advance of a White House event today at which President Trump will sign Congress' most recent opioids bill into law.

What's new: Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the death rate holding steady, after years of increases.

  • “Plateauing at such a high level is hardly an opportunity to declare victory,” Azar said. “But the concerted efforts of communities across America are beginning to turn the tide.”

What’s next: The legislation Trump will sign this afternoon includes a couple of important policies, including expanded access to medication-assisted treatment. And health care companies are joining in with announcements of their own.

  • Express Scripts is announcing that it successfully redirected many of its clients toward shorter prescriptions and safer drugs.
  • Emergent BioSolutions will announce that it’s donating doses of naloxone, the overdose-revival drug, to every public library and YMCA in the country, senior White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told Axios earlier this week.

Meanwhile, HHS announced a new initiative yesterday to improve Medicaid treatment for women who are dependent on opioids and are pregnant or have recently given birth.

  • The 5-year model will include up to $64.6 million in grants to states, with the goal of delivering treatment to women who need it and connecting them with other support networks.

Go deeper: The youngest victims of the opioid epidemic

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