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Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price says his department will use the “full weight” of the power it has in Congress to fight opioid abuse.
“The goal is to protect and save lives,” Price told reporters Friday at a press briefing.
His comments came a day after House Republicans unveiled their proposal to reform the nation’s prescription-drug program.
Price said his department would “put the pressure on the pharmaceutical companies” to get off the market of the opioid painkiller fentanyl and other drugs that are being abused by millions of Americans.
In response to the House proposal, Trump administration officials have said that the administration is not interested in changing the program, and that it’s in the best interest of the American people to continue to make it work.
The opioid epidemic is a public health emergency and has led to the deaths of more than 30,000 people in the United States in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The drug epidemic has contributed to the country’s mounting cost of healthcare, as well as to rising opioid abuse, according the CDC.
In the coming days, the House will hold a vote on legislation that would make it easier for the federal government to enforce the Affordable Care Act.
Price also called for a study on how best to increase funding for treatment facilities and prevention programs for people with opioid addiction.
At the same time, he has said the administration wants to help people find alternative medications to treat their addiction.
The administration’s plan calls for a 15-year, $2 trillion reduction in the opioid crisis.
It also proposes $200 billion in additional spending to address the opioid abuse crisis, and $500 million to help states respond to the opioid epidemic.
Under the House plan, the government would have to give states access to federal funds to expand opioid treatment, opioid overdose prevention, and substance abuse prevention services.
It would also have to spend $500 billion on prevention programs, and provide states with the ability to negotiate lower drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.
The Senate proposal calls for $1.6 trillion in new spending to fight the opioid addiction crisis.
That’s a 10 percent cut from the House bill.
Price did not address the Senate plan’s funding for prevention programs.
Democrats have called the House measure a big bailout for drug companies and a “crony capitalism” that would force drug companies to cut prices and pay for higher drug prices.