Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis: Updates from Washington and Vienna

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 26, 2017

 

PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP IS TAKING ACTION ON DRUG ADDICTION AND THE OPIOID CRISIS

 

“The best way to prevent drug addiction and overdose is to prevent people from abusing drugs in the first place.  If they don’t start, they won’t have a problem.” – President Donald J. Trump

 

DRUG ADDICTION AND OPIOIDS ARE RAVAGING AMERICA: Hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost their lives to drug abuse, and it will only get worse unless action is taken.

  • In 2016, more than two million Americans had an addiction to prescription or illicit opioids.

o   Since 2000, over 300,000 Americans have died from overdoses involving opioids.

  • Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of injury death in the United States, outnumbering both traffic crashes and gun-related deaths.
  • In 2015, there were 52,404 drug overdose deaths — 33,091 of those deaths, almost two-thirds, involved the use of opioids.

o   According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics, the national age-adjusted rate of opioid overdose deaths in 2015 was 10.4 deaths per 100,000 Americans.

  • The situation has only gotten worse, with drug overdose deaths in 2016 expected to exceed 64,000.

o   This represents a rate of 175 deaths a day.

o   This exceeds the number of Americans killed during the Vietnam War.

o   The rise in overdose deaths is largely due to the proliferation of illicitly made fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic opioid, and fentanyl analogs.

  • In 2016, more than 11.5 million Americans ages 12 and older reported misuse of prescription opioids in the past year, and nearly 950,000 Americans reported heroin use in the past year.
  • In 2014, the number of babies born drug-dependent had increased by 500 percent since 2000, and children being placed in foster care due in part to parental drug abuse is going up — now it is almost a third of all child removals.

 

A PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY: President Donald J. Trump is mobilizing his entire Administration to address drug addiction and opioid abuse by directing the declaration of a Nationwide Public Health Emergency to address the opioids crisis.

  • The action allows for expanded access to telemedicine services, including services involving remote prescribing of medicine commonly used for substance abuse or mental health treatment.
  • The action helps overcome bureaucratic delays and inefficiencies in the hiring process, by allowing the Department of Health and Human Services to more quickly make temporary appointments of specialists with the tools and talent needed to respond effectively to our Nation’s ongoing public health emergency.
  • The actions allows the Department of Labor to issue dislocated worker grants to help workers who have been displaced from the workforce because of the opioid crisis, subject to available funding.
  • The action allows for shifting of resources within HIV/AIDS programs to help people eligible for those programs receive substance abuse treatment, which is important given the connection between HIV transmission and substance abuse.

 

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS FIGHTING BACK: The Trump White House has moved quickly to address the drug addiction and opioid crisis, with the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis leading the way.

  • In March 2017, President Trump established the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, with the following stated mission: “to study the scope and effectiveness of the Federal response to drug addiction and the opioid crisis and to make recommendations to the President for improving that response.”

o   President Trump eagerly awaits the Commission’s final report so that he can review their findings and recommendations.

  • Since President Trump took office, more than $1 billion in funding has been allocated or spent directly addressing the drug addiction and opioid crisis.

o   Since April, more than $800 million has been distributed for prevention, treatment, first responders, prescription drug monitoring programs, recovery and other care in communities, inpatient settings, and correctional systems.

o   Since the President took office, $254 million in funding for high-risk communities, law enforcement, and first responder coordination and work has been awarded.

  • The CDC has launched the Prescription Awareness Campaign, a multimedia awareness campaign featuring the real-life stories of people who have lost loved ones to prescription opioid overdose and people in recovery.
  • The Food and Drug Administration is imposing new requirements on the manufacturers of prescription opioids to help reverse the overprescribing that has fueled the crisis.
  • The Department of Justice’s Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit is targeting individuals that are contributing to the prescription opioid epidemic, has netted the largest-ever health care fraud takedown, secured the first-ever indictments against Chinese fentanyl manufacturers, and seized AlphaBay, the largest criminal marketplace on the Internet and a major source of fentanyl and heroin.
  • The State Department has secured a binding UN agreement making it harder for criminals to access fentanyl precursors ANPP and NPP.
  • The National Institutes of Health has initiated discussions with the pharmaceutical industry to establish a partnership to investigate non-addictive pain relievers and new addiction and overdose treatments, as well as a potential vaccine for addiction.
  • The Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, National Institutes of Health, and Department of Health and Human Services are collaborating on a six-year, $81 million joint research partnership focusing on nondrug approaches to managing pain in order to address the needs of service members and veterans.

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THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 26, 2017

 

MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES

 

SUBJECT:        Combatting the National Drug Demand and Opioid

Crisis

 

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby directed as follows:

Section 1Policy.  It shall be the policy of the United States to use all lawful means to combat the drug demand and opioid crisis currently afflicting our country.  Individuals, families, and communities across the United States continue to be devastated by an unprecedented epidemic of drug abuse and overdose, including of prescription opioids, heroin, and illicit synthetic opioids.  Last year, we lost at least 64,000 of our fellow Americans to drug overdose, primarily from opioids.  This is an increase of approximately 12,000 people over the year before and more than ever recorded in United States history.  Drug overdoses now kill more Americans than motor vehicle crashes or gun-related incidents, and more than 300,000 Americans have died of an opioid overdose since 2000.  Further, more than 2.1 million of our fellow citizens are addicted to opioids, and in 2014 more than 1,500 people were treated each day in emergency departments for opioid-related emergencies.

This crisis has devastated our communities.  It has been particularly harmful for children affected by their parents’ drug abuse.  The number of infants born drug-dependent increased by nearly 500 percent from 2000 to 2012.  The number of children being placed into foster care due, at least in part, to parental drug abuse is increasing, and accounted for almost a third of all child removals in Fiscal Year 2015.  Serious drug users are also more likely to be arrested for crimes such as burglary, robbery, and handling stolen goods.  Moreover, the drug trafficking that supplies illegal drugs to our country is associated with other illegal activities, including murder and other violent crimes.  All of this devastates lives and harms communities in both the United States and foreign countries involved in the illegal drug supply chain.  Federal, State, and local governments; law enforcement; first responders; the medical, public health, and substance abuse treatment community; and faith-based and community organizations are working tirelessly and have even expanded their efforts to combat the drug demand and opioid crisis.

Three factors are driving the opioid aspect of this crisis in particular.  First, since the 1990s, there has been a dramatic rise in opioid pain medication prescriptions.  Second, heroin from Mexico has flooded the country.  Third, the illicit manufacture and illegal importation of fentanyl — an extremely deadly synthetic opioid — and its analogues and related compounds have proliferated.  Fentanyl is currently manufactured almost exclusively in China, and it is either shipped into the United States or smuggled across the southern border by drug traffickers.  Between 2013 and 2016, the amount of fentanyl seized by Customs and Border Protection at the border increased more than 200 times over.  Dealers are increasingly lacing fentanyl into other drugs and pressing it into counterfeit opioid pills.  Because fentanyl is lethal in even miniscule doses, this is an extremely deadly tactic, as it too often causes users to ingest a fatal amount unknowingly.

Sec. 2Agency Action.  The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall, consistent with section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, 42 U.S.C. 247d, consider declaring that the drug demand and opioid crisis described in section 1 of this memorandum constitutes a Public Health Emergency.  Additionally, the heads of executive departments and agencies, as appropriate and consistent with law, shall exercise all appropriate emergency authorities, as well as other relevant authorities, to reduce the number of deaths and minimize the devastation the drug demand and opioid crisis inflicts upon American communities.

Sec. 3General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b)  This memorandum shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c)  This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

(d)  The Secretary of Health and Human Services is hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

 

DONALD J. TRUMP

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THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

____________________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release
October 26, 2017

 

REMARKS BY PRESIDENT TRUMP

ON COMBATTING DRUG DEMAND AND THE OPIOID CRISIS

 

East Room

2:26 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Melania, for your moving words and for your devotion — it’s a very deep devotion, I can tell you that — to our nation and its children.

Thank you also to members of Congress, my Cabinet, governors, members of Congress, state, local leaders, first responders, and healthcare professionals gathered here today.  We have some truly incredible people in this room — that I can tell you.

Most importantly, we acknowledge the families present who have lost a cherished loved one.  As you all know from personal experience, families, communities, and citizens across our country are currently dealing with the worst drug crisis in American history and even, if you really think about it, world history.  This is all throughout the world.  The fact is this is a worldwide problem.

This crisis of drug use, addiction, and overdose deaths in many years, it’s just been so long in the making.  Addressing it will require all of our effort and it will require us to confront the crisis in all of its very real complexity.

Last year, we lost at least 64,000 Americans to overdoses.  That’s 175 lost American lives per day.  That’s seven lost lives per hour in our country.  Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of unintentional death in the United States by far.

More people are dying from drug overdoses today than from gun homicides and motor vehicles combined.  Think of it — motor vehicle crashes, gun homicides, more people by far from drug overdoses.

These overdoses are driven by a massive increase in addiction to prescription painkillers, heroin, and other opioids.  Last year, almost 1 million Americans used heroin, and more than 11 million abused prescription opioids.  The United States is by far the largest consumer of these drugs, using more opioid pills per person than any other country by far in the world.  Opioid overdose deaths have quadrupled since 1999 and now account for the majority of fatal drug overdoses.  Who would have thought?

No part of our society — not young or old, rich or poor, urban or rural — has been spared this plague of drug addiction and this horrible, horrible situation that’s taken place with opioids.

In West Virginia — a truly great state, great people — there is a hospital nursery where one in every five babies spends its first days in agony.  Because these precious babies were exposed to opioids or other drugs in the womb, they endure nausea, pain, anxiety, sleeplessness, and trouble eating, just the same as adults undergoing detox.

Some of these children will likely lose one or both of their parents to drug addiction and overdose.  They will join the growing ranks of America’s opioid orphans.  Such beautiful, beautiful babies.

Beyond the shocking death toll, the terrible measure of the opioid crisis includes the families ripped apart and, for many communities, a generation of lost potential and opportunity.

This epidemic is a national health emergency, unlike many of us we’ve seen and what we’ve seen in our lifetimes.  Nobody has seen anything like what’s going on now.

As Americans, we cannot allow this to continue.  It is time to liberate our communities from this scourge of drug addiction.  Never been this way.  We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic.  We can do it.  (Applause.)  We can do it.

That is why, effective today, my administration is officially declaring the opioid crisis a national public health emergency under federal law, and why I am directing all executive agencies to use every appropriate emergency authority to fight the opioid crisis.  This marks a critical step in confronting the extraordinary challenge that we face.

As part of this emergency response, we will announce a new policy to overcome a restrictive 1970s-era rule that prevents states from providing care at certain treatment facilities with more than 16 beds for those suffering from drug addiction.  (Applause.)

A number of states have reached out to us asking for relief, and you should expect to see approvals that will unlock treatment for people in need.  And those approvals will come very, very fast.  Not like in the past — very, very quickly.

Ending the epidemic will require mobilization of government, local communities, and private organizations.  It will require the resolve of our entire country.

The scale of this crisis of addiction is why, soon after coming into office, I convened a presidential commission, headed by Governor Chris Christie, that has consulted with experts across America to listen, to learn, and report back on potential solutions.

We await the final report, which will come in next week.  And I know some of the report has already been seen, because I want to see it as quickly as possible.  And some of the things that they are recommending are common sense, but very, very important.  And they’re going to have a tremendous impact, believe me — tremendous impact.

Today, I will detail many of these aggressive steps with my administration, which we’ve already taken.  After we review and evaluate the commission’s findings, I will quickly move to implement approximate and appropriate recommendations.

But I want the American people to know:  The federal government is aggressively fighting the opioid epidemic on all fronts.  We’re working with doctors and medical professionals to implement best practices for safe opioid prescribing, and we will do something very, very special.  We are requiring federally employed prescribers to receive, finally, special training.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched a prescription awareness campaign to put faces on the danger of opioid abuse.

I want to acknowledge CVS Caremark for announcing last month that it will limit certain first-time opioid prescriptions to seven-day supplies, among other important reforms.  And I encourage other companies to do their part to help to stop this epidemic.  (Applause.)

The FDA is now requiring drug companies that manufacture prescription opioids to provide more training to prescribers and to help prevent abuse and addiction, and has requested that one especially high-risk opioid be withdrawn from the market immediately.  We are requiring that a specific opioid, which is truly evil, be taken off the market immediately.  (Applause.)

The U.S. Postal Service and the Department of Homeland Security are strengthening the inspection of packages coming into our country to hold back the flood of cheap and deadly fentanyl, a synthetic opioid manufactured in China and 50 times stronger than heroin.

And in two weeks, I will be in China with President Xi, and I will mention this as a top priority.  (Applause.)  And he will do something about it.

I am also pleased to report that for the first time, the Department of Justice has indicated [indicted] major Chinese drug traffickers for distributing — and they have really put very, very strong clamps on them.  They’ve indicted them, the drug traffickers, for distributing fentanyl in the United States.  So, Jeff, thank you very much.  Good job.  (Applause.)

And they’ve been indicted and we’re not going to forget about them, believe me.  They are doing tremendous harm to our country.  The Justice Department is aggressively and, really, valiantly pursuing those who illegally prescribe and traffic in opioids, both in our communities and on the Internet.

And I will be looking at the potential of the federal government bringing major lawsuits against bad actors.  What they have and what they’re doing to our people is unheard of.  We will be bringing some very major lawsuits against people and against companies that are hurting our people.  And that will start taking place pretty soon.  (Applause.)

We’re also supporting first responders’ and medical professionals’ access to the tools they need to prevent deaths through life-saving overdose medications.

At my direction, the National Institute of Health, headed up by Francis Collins, has taken the first steps of an ambitious public-private partnership with pharmaceutical companies to develop non-addictive painkillers and new treatments for addiction and overdose.  So important.  (Applause.)

I will be pushing the concept of non-addictive painkillers very, very hard.  We have to come up with that solution.  We give away billions and billions of dollars a year, and we’re going to be spending lots of money on coming up with a non-addictive solution.

We will be asking Dr. Collins and the NIH for substantial resources in the fight against drug addiction.  One of the things our administration will be doing is a massive advertising campaign to get people, especially children, not to want to take drugs in the first place because they will see the devastation and the ruination it causes to people and people’s lives.

Watch what happens, if we do our jobs, how the number of drug users and the addicted will start to tumble downward over a period of years.  It will be a beautiful thing to see.

I learned, myself — I had a brother, Fred — great guy, best-looking guy, best personality — much better than mine.  (Laughter.)  But he had a problem.  He had a problem with alcohol, and he would tell me, “Don’t drink.  Don’t drink.”  He was substantially older, and I listened to him and I respected, but he would constantly tell me, don’t drink.  He’d also add, don’t smoke.  But he would say it over and over and over again.

And to this day, I’ve never had a drink.  And I have no longing for it.  I have no interest in it.  To this day, I’ve never had a cigarette.  Don’t worry, those are only two of my good things.  I don’t want to tell you about the bad things.  (Laughter.)  There’s plenty of bad things too.

But he really helped me.  I had somebody that guided me, and he had a very, very, very tough life because of alcohol — believe me, very, very tough, tough life.  He was a strong guy, but it was a tough, tough thing that he was going through.  But I learned because of Fred.  I learned.

And that’s what I think is so important.  This was an idea that I had, where if we can teach young people not to take drugs — just not to take them.  When I see friends of mine that are having difficulty with not having that drink at dinner, where it’s literally almost impossible for them to stop, I say to myself, I can’t even understand it — why would that be difficult?  But we understand why it is difficult.

The fact is, if we can teach young people — and people, generally — not to start, it’s really, really easy not to take them.  And I think that’s going to end up being our most important thing.  Really tough, really big, really great advertising, so we get to people before they start, so they don’t have to go through the problems of what people are going through.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

We are already distributing nearly $1 billion in grants for addiction prevention and treatment, and over $50 million dollars to support law enforcement programs that assist those facing prison and facing addiction.

We have also launched an $81 million partnership to research better pain management techniques for our incredible veterans.  And soon — (applause) — and, by the way, Secretary Shulkin is here.  You have done an incredible job for our veterans in a very short period of time.  (Applause.)  And soon, HHS will launch a taskforce to develop and update best practices for pain management across the federal government.

I am urging all Americans to help fight this opioid epidemic and the broader issue of drug addiction by participating in the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day this Saturday.  When you can safely turn in these dangerous and horrible drugs for disposal, that will be a wonderful, wonderful period of time for you.

All of these actions are important parts of my administration’s larger effort to confront the drug addiction crisis in America and confront it head on, straight on — strong.  We’re going to do it.  We’re going to do it.

For too long, we have allowed drugs to ravage American homes, cities, and towns.  We owe it to our children and our country to do everything in our power to address this national shame and this human tragedy.

We must stop the flow of all types of illegal drugs into our communities.  (Applause.)  For too long, dangerous criminal cartels have been allowed to infiltrate and spread throughout our nation.  An astonishing 90 percent of the heroin in America comes from south of the border, where we will be building a wall which will greatly help in this problem.  (Applause.)  It will have a great impact.  My administration is dedicated to enforcing our immigration laws, defending our maritime security, and securing our borders.

We also have to work with other countries to stop these drugs where they originate.  We have no choice.  We have to work with others, we have to get together, because they have similar problems to what we have.  Some countries have bigger problems than we have.  Whether that country is China, whether it’s a country in Latin America, it makes no difference.  We’re going to be working with all of them.  We’re taking the fight directly to the criminals in places that they’re producing this poison.

Here in America, we are once again enforcing the law; breaking up gangs and distribution networks; and arresting criminals who peddle dangerous drugs to our youth.

In addition, we understand the need to confront reality, right smack in the face, that millions of our fellow citizens are already addicted.  That’s the reality.  We want them to get the help they need.  We have no choice but to help these people that are hooked and are suffering so they can recover and rebuild their lives with their families.

We’re committed to pursuing innovative approaches that have been proven to work, like drug courts.  Our efforts will be based on sound metrics, and guided by evidence and guided by results.  This includes making addiction treatment available to those in prison and to help them eventually reenter society as productive and law-abiding citizens.

Finally, we must adopt the most common-sense solution of all: to prevent our citizens from becoming addicted to drugs in the first place.  (Applause.)

We must and are focusing so much of our effort on drug demand reduction.  We must confront the culture of drug abuse head-on to reduce demand for dangerous narcotics.  Every person who buys illicit drugs here in America should know that they are risking their futures, their families, and even their lives.  And every American should know that if they purchase illegal drugs, they are helping to finance some of the most violent, cruel, and ruthless organizations anywhere in the world.  Illegal drug use is not a victimless crime.  There is nothing admirable, positive, or socially desirable about it.  There is nothing desirable about drugs.  They’re bad.

We want the next generation of young Americans to know the blessings of a drug-free life.  In this enormous struggle against drug addiction, an opioid epidemic — it really is that; it is an epidemic — our greatest hope is the same as it has always been.  Through every trial America has encountered throughout our history, the spirit of our people and the strength of our character, we win.  Each of us has a responsibility to this effort.  We have a total responsibility to ourselves, to our family, to our country, including those who are struggling with this addiction.

Each of us is responsible to look out for our loved ones, our communities, our children, our neighbors, and our own health.  Almost every American has witnessed the horrors of addiction.  Whether it’s through their own struggle or through the struggle of a friend, a coworker, a neighbor or, frankly, a family member, our current addiction crisis, and especially the epidemic of opioid deaths, will get worse before it gets better.  But get better it will.  It will take many years and even decades to address this scourge in our society, but we must start in earnest now to combat national health emergency.

We are inspired by the stories of everyday heroes who pull their communities from the depths of despair through leadership and through love.

Fire Chief Dan Goonan, of New Hampshire — great state — runs a program, Safe Station, which allows drug-dependent residents to seek help at fire stations at any time.

Jesse and Cyndi Swafford of Dayton, Ohio have provided a loving, stable home to children affected by the opioid crisis.

I am calling on every American to join the ranks of guardian angels like Chief Goonan and the Swaffords, who help lift up the people of our great nation.

Together, we will care for our citizens, our children, and our orphans and our — and you know what I’m going to say — our foster youth.  So many.  So many.  But we’re going to lift them up, and we’re going to take care of them.  We will work to strengthen vulnerable families and communities, and we will help to build and grow a stronger, healthier, and drug-free society.

Together, we will face this challenge as a national family with conviction, with unity, and with a commitment to love and support our neighbors in times of dire need.

Working together, we will defeat this opioid epidemic.  It will be defeated.  We will free our nation from the terrible affliction of drug abuse.  And, yes, we will overcome addiction in America.  We are going to overcome addiction in America.

We have fought and won many battles and many wars before, and we will win again.

Thank you.  God bless you.  And God Bless America.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

Thank you.  Here we go.  This is very important:  “Combatting the National Drug Demand and Opioid Crisis.”  Right?  So important.  We will win, right?

(The presidential memorandum is signed.)  (Applause.)

END                     2:53 P.M. EDT

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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release

REMARKS

October 26, 2017

Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics

And Law Enforcement Affairs Jim Walsh

On the State Department’s Role in Combating the Opioid Crisis

October 26, 2017

Press Briefing Room

Washington, D.C.

 

MS NAUERT:  Hi, everybody.  How are you today?  Thank you so much for coming in.  We have some visitors again today, including Robert’s brother, Jerry, who is visiting from – where are you visiting from, Jerry?

MR GREENAN:  North Carolina.

MS NAUERT:  North Carolina.  Welcome.

MR GREENAN:  Thank you.

MS NAUERT:  Glad to have you here.  Everybody, thanks so much for coming.  I brought a few extra guests with me today as a part of our effort to try to bring more of our experts into the room to provide you information on timely issues.  I just want to add on a personal note to that my colleagues who are joining us have served at the State Department for 15 and 17 years, respectively.  They are both Civil servants who have done tremendous work on behalf of the department and the American public.

We have a tremendous amount of respect for both our functional and regional bureaus, our Foreign Service officers, our career Civil servants, and I want to highlight some of the excellent work that they are doing.  They are tremendous patriots.  They have served all around the world – many of them have – and are really example of State Department’s best and brightest.

I’d like to start by introducing you today to Jim Walsh.  He is the deputy assistant secretary for a bureau which is called INL.  You probably heard the President a short while ago talk about the opioid crisis here in the United States.  The President talked about how, through a whole-of-government approach, we will aggressively fight the addiction throughout the administration – the addiction crisis in the United States.

The President said we can be an end – a generation to end this epidemic.  The State Department is also doing its part in trying to do away with the problem of drug addiction and all of that.  We play a key role in combatting the deadly epidemic.  Our bureau dedicated to drugs and law enforcement, INL, is leading efforts around the globe related to the opioids crisis, so to provide some details on this and answer your questions on the issue, I’d like to welcome to the podium our Deputy Assistant Secretary Jim Walsh from the INL Bureau.  That stands for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.  He has a quick address for you.  We’ll take a few questions, and then I’d like to introduce you to another one of our deputy assistant secretaries.

MR WALSH:  Thank you, Heather.  Good afternoon, everyone.  With the President and First Lady just speaking about our nation’s drug crisis, I’d like to share a few comments about how the State Department is addressing the opioid epidemic.  With heroin and synthetic opioids fueling this crisis produced overseas, transnational criminal organizations moving this deadly product, our national strategy to respond to this crisis must include an international component.  Responding to this crisis is a top priority for the administration, and here at the State Department we’re leveraging our partnerships across the globe to stem the flow of these killer drugs.  We’re pulling diplomatic levers both bilaterally and multilaterally, and using foreign assistance to protect U.S. communities.

Effective October 18th, criminals now have a tougher time producing fentanyl because two major ingredients needed to produce this dangerous drug are now internationally controlled.  The State Department led a robust diplomatic campaign to advocate for this result, which culminated in a unanimous international vote to impose the new restrictions.  This is just one important step in our efforts to reduce the supply of deadly synthetic opioids and ultimately help save American lives.

On the other side of the globe we are working with China.  We are encouraging China to continue to crack down on illegal production and trafficking of synthetic opioids.  We have made notable progress on this front to date.  In March and July 2017, in response to U.S. requests, China agreed to establish new controls on five dangerous synthetic drugs, including carfentanyl, which you may know is a hundred times more deadly and potent than fentanyl.  Next week the State Department, along with our interagency partners at the Department of Justice, will travel to China to take part in a recurring experts-level counternarcotics working group meeting to further expand this cooperation.

We are also using foreign assistance to strengthen Mexico’s ability to stop illicit drugs from reaching our border.  The INL Bureau efforts on the ground, including building Mexico’s capacity to interdict illegal drugs, improves security along our southwest border and reduced production of heroin and synthetic drugs, and we will take down clandestine drug labs.  On December 1st we’ll gather again with not only Mexico but our northern partner, Canada, who is facing its own serious fentanyl challenge.  This will take place at the next North American Drug Dialogue.

Beyond the supply work – supply-side work, our international drug demand reduction programs are discovering new approaches that are being adopted by U.S., state, and local prevention and treatment professionals.  INL has developed a scientifically grounded, evidence-based, universal curriculum for both treatment and prevention.  This will head off and break the chain of addiction in a more effective manner.  Our overseas demand reduction tools and global research will also help address the opioid crisis domestically.

The bottom line is this: We at the State Department are moving forward and are full aware of the gravity of this crisis.  With over 64,000 Americans dead from overdoses in 2016, with drug traffickers taking advantage of new ways to move and sell their product, including through the dark web, and rogue chemists developing assiduous new synthetic drugs at an alarming rate, we must constantly be adapting our approach in responding to new and deadly realities.

This challenge is a dire one, and it will continue to be a top priority for the department.

Thank you.  I’ll take a few questions.

MS NAUERT:  Who would like to start?  Come on, no one’s curious in this room?  You’re reporters.

QUESTION:  I’ll do it.

MS NAUERT:  Okay.

QUESTION:  All right.

MS NAUERT:  Said, is that you?

QUESTION:  I’ll take a shot at it.  How are you coordinating your effort with, let’s say, countries such as your allies like Egypt and so on, where there is an emerging problem similar to yours?

MR WALSH:  Sure.  We – as I said, we work in the multilateral and bilateral arena.  Through the international multilateral arena, we meet on a regular basis in the International Narcotics Control Board, and we also work in a bilateral through our embassies.  Through our Drug Demand Reduction Programs, we’re also collecting a lot of information to gather an appreciation of how dangerous this – fentanyl, in particular, is occurring throughout the world.  Our statistics are not there, but it is – we are getting evidence that it is reaching a lot of other countries as well.  And so through the collection of information and sharing of our techniques for drug demand reduction, we’re working with them.

QUESTION:  Would that be security agency-to-security agency coordination, or at the diplomatic level?  How is —

MR WALSH:  Mostly diplomatic, with Egypt in particular.

MS NAUERT:  We’ll take one more question.  Go ahead.

QUESTION:  Thank you so much.  Regarding the – Carmen Ria Rodriguez, Radio Marti.  Would you say that it’s coming from abroad, or is this home-elaborated?  What would the major supplier be?

MR WALSH:  The major supply of the heroin, as you heard from our President, is coming from Mexico, in fact.  DEA estimates about 90 percent.  Of the fentanyl, the vast majority of it does come from China.  And we – what we are seeing is that it’s either being trafficked through Mexico and being combined with the heroin, or it’s being directly shipped to the United States via mail.

MS NAUERT:  Thank you so much.

MR WALSH:  Thank you.

MS NAUERT:  Thank you, sir.  Appreciate it.  And thank you for your expertise and your time.  Glad to have you.

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For information only – not an official document

UNIS/NAR/1332
18 October 2017

International Narcotics Control Board: Scheduling of Fentanyl Precursors Ccomes Into Force  

 

VIENNA, 18 October (UN Information Service) – Effective today, two precursors of fentanyl, ANPP and NPP, have been included in Table I of the Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988 and thus placed under international control, following the decision of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in March this year.

This decision will not only save lives in the current fentanyl crisis, witnessed specifically in countries in North America, but it will also make it harder for criminals to illicitly produce a number of even more deadly fentanyl analogues. The control measure, which requires the sending of pre-export notifications prior to dispatching shipments in legitimate international trade, will have no negative effect on the availability of ANPP and NPP for legitimate purposes, including for the manufacture of fentanyl for medical purposes. The measure will prevent the diversion of ANPP and NPP from licit international trade into the illicit production of dangerous drugs of abuse.

In accordance with its mandate to monitor and promote the implementation of the three international drug control conventions, the Board recommended to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs the scheduling of the two precursors.

The subsequent collective scheduling of these substances by the Commission is a prime example of how the international drug control system can swiftly react to address emerging drug control challenges and threats to public health, and take concrete action to save lives.

The International Narcotics Control Board is the independent quasi-judicial body monitoring and promoting the implementation of the three international drug control conventions. Pursuant to the provisions of the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988, INCB monitors Governments’ control over precursor chemicals and assists Governments in preventing the diversion of precursors from licit international trade into the illicit manufacture of drugs.