The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Epidemic held its first meeting on June 16. Healthcare and community advocates on the front lines of the opioid epidemic provided testimony focused on improving access to treatment and support for community prevention programs.
President Trump established the Commission in an executive order on March 29 to review the state of drug addiction and the opioid epidemic, and to make recommendations regarding how the federal government can best address this crisis. NACDS is monitoring the Commission’s progress in addressing these important issues and is preparing comments for the Commission, which plans to issue interim recommendations this summer and a final report on October 1.

Commission members include New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ, chair), Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R-MA), North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D-NC), and former congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI).

A 2016 CDC study found that prescription opioid overdose, abuse and dependence cost the U.S. $78.5 billion. According to the study, over one-third of this amount was due to increased healthcare and substance abuse treatment costs. One-quarter of this amount was paid by the public sector in healthcare, substance abuse treatment and criminal justice costs. Nearly two-thirds of the total economic burden was due to healthcare, substance abuse treatment and lost productivity for nonfatal cases.

NACDS has long been committed to curbing and preventing opioid abuse, and backed legislation—the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) and the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act—which were both signed into law by President Obama in 2016. Both bills are consistent with NACDS’ position that the complexity of these issues demands a 100-percent commitment to patient care and zero tolerance for abuse.