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July 23 2018

Opioid epidemic becomes political football in ongoing blame game

by Hadley Heath

Senator Elizabeth Warren recently sent a fiercely-worded letter to the Trump Administration criticizing its handling of the opioid crisis. The Administration has declared the epidemic a national public health emergency and has instituted several policy changes aimed at curbing addiction and abuse, but it’s not enough for some critics, including Warren. Read her letter here.

Also this week, two drug makers also filed suit against some convicted drug dealers and internet websites, claiming that these illicit actors should bear responsibility for the opioid crisis. Some call this move a publicity stunt and an effort to shift blame away from drug makers, but at least some of the parties named in the lawsuits are Tennessee cities and towns that first sued the drug makers, attempting to pin the costs of the drug crisis on them.

Republicans and Democrats, drug makers, doctors, hospitals, municipalities and government agencies all have valuable perspectives on the opioid crisis, which kills more than 90 Americans each day. But as IWF has explained in our policy focus, the reality of the crisis and its contributing factors are complex.

But as various parties look to save face and explain their versions of the past, it’s important to keep in mind that millions of Americans are waiting for the right solutions that can effect real change in their lives and in the lives of their loved ones who may be plagued by addiction. 

What are the right solutions? Well, we have to keep in mind that, despite the term “public health,” our health is actually quite personal. Each individual is different and may require individualized treatment. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to health care, whether we’re talking about addiction or any other disease. Some might need drugs to help them combat the threats of opioid addiction. Some might simply need childcare while they attend addiction-treatment support groups. Some might need to stay in a rehabilitation facility. And of course, those who aren’t yet addicted, but who are at risk, need to have the right information and supervision to avoid drug abuse.

This means individual doctors and other healthcare practitioners should have maximum freedom to make clinical decisions that they feel are best for the individual patient. The over-standardization of health care helped drive the opioid crisis. It is bottom-up, private-sector-driven solutions that will help drive it away. 

 
Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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