Mar 20, 2018

Trump's opioid focus: crime, not health

Photo: Keith Bedford / The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The opioid/heroin/fentanyl crisis is both a public health issue and a law enforcement issue — and law enforcement clearly was the higher priority yesterday as President Trump unveiled his administration's latest proposals to combat the crisis.

What he said: Trump spent the bulk of his time in yesterday's speech talking about drug dealers and illegal products. He talked at length about giving some drug traffickers the death penalty; he talked about "sanctuary cities" and made a pitch for the border wall; and he talked up a "just say no" type of TV ads to discourage young people from trying drugs. Public health interventions took a backseat.

Yes, but: The administration's top health care officials are, of course, focused on the health care side of the issue. HHS secretary Alex Azar, who appeared with Trump yesterday, has endorsed medication-assisted therapy and lifting Medicaid caps on inpatient mental-health treatment.

One more thing: Trump and Azar said yesterday that the administration is planning more big moves — or at least, more fanfare — around the separate issue of drug prices.

  • "We're going to have a major news conference, probably at the White House, in about a month," Trump said.
  • "We're going to be rolling out, as you mentioned, in about a month, a whole slate of other proposals around how we decrease the price of drugs and how we bring discounts that the middlemen right now are getting — how those will go to our patients," Azar said.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 a.m. ET: 1,363,365— Total deaths: 76,420 — Total recoveries: 292,425Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 a.m. ET: 368,533 — Total deaths: 11,008 — Total recoveries: 19,972Map.
  3. Trump administration latest: Peter Navarro warned White House colleagues in late January about the massive potential risks from the coronavirus.
  4. Public health update: Funeral homes are struggling to handle the pandemic.
  5. 2020 update: Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks the governor's attempt to delay in-person primary voting until June.
  6. Tech update: YouTube has removed thousands of COVID-19 videos for violating policies related to spreading medical misinformation.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Stephanie Grisham out as White House press secretary

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham is departing her post to return to the East Wing as First Lady Melania Trump's chief of staff, the White House announced Tuesday. The news was first reported by CNN.

Why it matters: Grisham will leave after nine months without ever having held a formal press briefing. Her departure follows the arrival of new White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who has a chance to overhaul a communications shop that's kept a low profile since President Trump ended the tradition of daily press secretary briefings.

WeWork board sues SoftBank

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

SoftBank was sued Tuesday morning by a special committee of WeWork's board of directors for alleged breaches of contract and fiduciary duty related to SoftBank's decision to cancel a $3 billion tender offer for WeWork shares.

Why it matters: SoftBank is viewed by many in the private markets as an unfaithful partner. If this reaches trial, that reputation could either become widely cemented or reversed.