Leave it to the billionaire president to deflect blame from pharmaceutical giants profiting off addiction.
President Donald Trump has a new idea for how to combat America’s opioid crisis — one that requires us, unsurprisingly, to get “mean” and “tough.” Indeed, in a speech in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Feb. 5, Trump proposed harsher treatment of “drug pushers” and “drug dealers” as a means of fighting the opioid epidemic that killed more than 42,000 Americans in 2016.
Specifically, Trump said:
Creating good jobs is also an important part of fighting the drug epidemic that has affected millions of Americans, bringing new hope to struggling communities. And it’s gotten to a point where it’s never been worse.
People form blue ribbon committees, they do everything they can. And, frankly, I have a different take on it. My take is, you have to get really, really tough — really mean — with the drug pushers and the drug dealers. We can do all the blue ribbon committees we want. We have to get a lot tougher than we are. And we have to stop drugs from pouring across our border.
Trump using the opioid crisis as a way to gain support for the border wall is nothing new, but it’s a slap in the face to the victims and their families who have been hurt by the epidemic. The “drug pushers” and “drug dealers” are merely middlemen, small-time players, compared to the biggest dealers of all: pharmaceutical companies.
According to data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) prescription opioid sales nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2014; during this timespan, overdose deaths from prescription opioids increased as well. While opioid prescriptions should only be prescribed to cancer patients, or those with pain-related diagnosis, only an estimated one out of five fit the bill. Overdose deaths from opioid prescriptions were fives times higher in 2016 than they were in 1999, and overall, 40 percent of all U.S. opioid overdose deaths involved prescription drugs.