Updates on Opioid Abuse Policy, Last Presidential Debate Before Election

Campaign for Cures

The Campaign for Cures Election 2016 blog features news, analysis, commentary and data about the presidential candidates and congressional races in key states on issues relevant to medical progress. Janice Lloyd, former USA Today senior editor and health reporter, manages The Campaign for Cures blog. You can reach Janice at campaignforcures@gmail.com.   Follow Campaign for Cures, a national voter education initiative, on Twitter and Facebook and visit www.campaignforcures.org

Updates on Opioid Abuse Policy, Last Presidential Debate Before Election

Janice Lloyd

We’re holding out hope that the final presidential debate will shed light on how the candidates plan to address health problems facing millions of Americans who are waiting for better treatments for a myriad of problems ranging from drug addiction to cancer and mental illness.

Since one of the topics under discussion Wednesday night in Las Vegas is the economy, medical research could be a prime topic because of the role it plays in creating jobs to find new cures and in helping people lead more productive lives. Research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) supports more than 350,000 jobs across the United States and contributes some $60 billion annually in economic activity. 

In addition, we haven’t heard much agreement at the past two debates, but we’re hearing common ground develop between the opponents on a serious public health issue. The topic is the opioid epidemic, the leading cause of injury death in the United States.

While Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has already established a multi-detailed plan about how to combat the problem, Donald Trump had been limiting his focus on blame: a porous border allowing the flow of illegal drugs into the country. That’s changed.

When the Republican candidate was in New Hampshire recently, he gave credit for his new comprehensive policy, which sounds similar to Clinton’s plan, to his running mate Mike Pence.

Trump told the crowd, “When I won the New Hampshire primary, I promised the people of New Hampshire that I would stop drugs from pouring into your communities. I am now doubling-down on that promise, and can guarantee you – we will not only stop the drugs from pouring in, but we will help all of those people so seriously addicted get the assistance they need to unchain themselves.

“New Hampshire has one of the highest drug overdose death rates in the country.

“We have to solve this crisis.

“I have to give credit to my running mate, Mike Pence, on this issue.

“Mike increased the mandatory minimum sentences for the most serious drug offenders, while expanding access to treatment and prevention options for those struggling with addiction.”

He and Clinton have both hailed the value of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. He also said he supports drug courts and mandated treatment, which he termed a "cost effective, appropriate, and humane response to addiction."

Trump also said he would increase access to Narcan, the drug that helps treat overdoses, and change the regulations around access to opioids.

A year ago in New Hampshire, Clinton released a five-part plan to fight the epidemic, citing theses staggering statistics:

“There are 23 million Americans suffering from addiction. But no one is untouched. We all have family and friends who are affected. We can’t afford to stay on the sidelines any longer — because when families are strong, America is strong. Through improved treatment, prevention, and training, we can end this quiet epidemic once and for all.”

Research!America sent a letter to all the moderators asking them to bring up questions during the debates about what the candidates  would do to advance medical progress. There’s been plenty of discussion about stamina and sniffles so far, but Wednesday night it is moderator Chris Wallace’s job to try to get serious answers for Americans about health issues.



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Presidential Candidates Should Participate in Debate on Science

Source: A Research!America and ScienceDebate.org poll of U.S. adults conducted in partnership with Zogby Analytics in September 2015.