August 9, 2017 9:05 am -

While the press – quite understandable, – focused on Donald Trump’s unhinged, blundering response to the news that North Korea can miniaturize its nukes, another story flew under the radar:

Ignoring the advice of a presidential commission on fighting drug addiction chaired by Gov. Chris Christie, President Donald Trump Tuesday opted against declaring a national emergency in response to the surge in opioid addiction.

“We believe that, at this point, that the resources that we need for the focus that we need to bring to bear to the opioid crisis, at this point, can be addressed without the declaration of an emergency,” U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said.

“Although,” he added, “all things are on the table.”

Price made the comment after he and other top administration officials huddled behind closed doors with the president at his Bedminster golf club to debrief Trump on a report on drug addiction Christie helped draft.

Not an emergency? Here are the hard numbers:

The latest government numbers reported find that drug overdose deaths in 2016 continued to climb despite ongoing efforts to stem the the overdose epidemic.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, estimates for the first nine months of 2016 were higher than the first nine months of the previous year, which had already reached an all time high of 52,404. Of those, more than 33,000 were attributed to opioid drugs including legal prescription painkillers as well as illicit drugs like heroin and street fentanyl.

Broken down into quarters, the third quarter of 2016, saw all drug overdose deaths peak at 19.9 cases for every 100,000 people, compared to the 16.7 in the same period last year. The first two quarters of 2016 also saw the number of overdose deaths climb from 16.3 deaths for every 100,000 people in the first quarter of 2015 to 18.9 in the first quarter of 2016, and 16.2 deaths in the second quarter of 2015 to 19.3 in the second quarter of 2016. However, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which publishes the national data, noted that the first two quarters were not significantly different from the same time frame in 2015. The CDC’s annual numbers on drug overdose deaths are usually about a year behind in reporting.

Trump – and, for that matter, the entire GOP – are in the back pocket of PhRMA, the powerful pharmaceutical lobby. Opioids are enormously profitable, and declaring an “emergency” might well cut into the bottom line and shareholder value, 33,000 dead opioid users be damned!

D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.