After drug distributor charged, Trump
sets speech on opioid fight
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[April 24, 2019]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President
Donald Trump is expected to tout his fight against opioid abuse in
remarks in Atlanta on Wednesday, a day after his administration brought
its first related criminal charges against a major drug distributor and
America's opioid epidemic, especially damaging in rural areas where
Trump is popular, has been a focus for the Republican president.
Little has come of Trump's calls for executing drug dealers, but on
other fronts the administration has taken some action. Trump has worked
to boost funding for treatment and raise awareness of the problem.
On Tuesday, the government charged Rochester Drug Co-operative Inc and
executives of the major drug distributor. The company agreed to pay $20
million and enter a deferred prosecution agreement to resolve charges it
turned a blind eye to thousands of suspicious orders for opioids.
Deaths from opioid overdose in the United States jumped 17 percent in
2017 from a year earlier to more than 49,000 according to the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention.
Deaths from synthetic opioids like fentanyl surged 45 percent in that
time, according to the CDC.
Hundreds of lawsuits by state and local governments accuse drugmakers
such as Purdue Pharma of deceptively marketing opioids, and distributors
such as AmerisourceBergen Corp, Cardinal Health Inc and McKesson Corp of
ignoring that they were being diverted for improper uses.
Trump has said he convinced Chinese President Xi Jinping in a December
meeting in Argentina to designate fentanyl as a controlled substance.
China last month listed all fentanyl-related substances as controlled
narcotics after criticism from Trump, though its government blamed U.S.
culture for abuse of the drug and said the amount of fentanyl going from
China into the United States was "extremely limited."
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President Donald Trump attends the 2019 White House Easter Egg Roll
on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 22,
2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency in
October 2017. He plans to provide an update on his administration's
work on the issue at the Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit, a White
House spokesman said.
Trump has used the crisis to support his call for building a wall on
the border with Mexico, saying it would help keep out drugs and curb
Heroin from Mexico accounted for 86 percent of the heroin found on
U.S. streets, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency’s most recent
annual narcotic report. Heroin, unlike fentanyl, is derived from the
seeds of the opium poppy plant.
Last week, U.S. health officials said they will spend $350 million
in four states to study ways to best deal with the opioid crisis on
the local level, with a goal of reducing opioid-related overdose
deaths by 40 percent over three years in selected communities in
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing
by Kevin Drawbaugh and David Gregorio)
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