White House Roosevelt Room Washington D.C. September 4 2:38 P.M. EDT
Thank you very much, everybody. And thank you very much for being here with us, at the White House, for a very important announcement - something we've worked extremely hard on.
Today, the Department of Health and Human Services is awarding $1.8 billion in new grant money to fight the opioid epidemic - something we've had quite a bit of success on and we're continuing. And I think you'll be amazed at the results. We've been doing this from pretty much the beginning, but really emphasis over the last year and a half.
These funds will be delivered to the communities where the help is most needed.
Joining us this afternoon is the Secretary of HHS, Alex Azar; Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and some other of our friends in the room that have been so instrumental. We'll be introducing them in a little while. Thank you both for your devotion, in particular, to building a drug-free future for our nation.
We're on our way; it sounds like a big statement. And it's a problem that every country is having, or most countries, certainly. But it's something that I saw firsthand during the campaign, and I couldn't believe when I looked at certain states, in particular, how bad it was. We want a safe and healthy future for every American family. That's what I said we'd do and that's what we're in the process of doing.
From reforming the way we treat kidney disease, to increasing price transparency, ending the HIV epidemic - that's an incredible thing; we think within a period of 10 years, Alex, we will have that in quite good shape. We think maybe ended. If you would've said, "Ending the HIV epidemic within 10 years," people wouldn't have known what you were even talking about if we would've said it two years ago. But we're well on our way.
And reducing high drug prices - which is something that my administration is very focused on. And we've had the best year we've had in over 51 years. We actually brought drug pricing down this year - this last year. First time that's happened in 51 years.
So my administration is focused on confronting the healthcare, and healthcare challenges, and American suffering that other administrations, frankly, have forgotten. We're doing things that other administrations did not focus on at all. In this effort, nothing is more important than defeating the opioid and addiction crisis.
The $1.8 billion in funds we're awarding today will be distributed to all 50 states through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's very exciting. They'll be used to increase access to medication and medication-assisted treatment and mental health resources, which are critical for ending homelessness and getting people the help they deserve. So many problems are caused by this problem.
These grants will also support state and local governments in obtaining high-quality, comprehensive data so that we can help the most people and save the most lives, which is what we're doing.
My administration is determined to use every resource at our disposal to smash the grip of addiction. In October 2017, my administration declared a nationwide public health emergency, directing agencies to use every resource in their arsenal to overcome the deadly plague of opioid abuse.
Since then, we've secured a record $6 billion in new funding to respond to this emergency. Last year, we provided $90 million to prevent youth substance abuse, and I signed the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act - the largest-ever legislative effort to address a drug crisis in our nation's history.
By the end of this month, HHS will have awarded a record $9 billion to expand access to prevention, treatment, and recovery services to states and local communities during my administration. And they're doing a great job locally when they get the funds. They didn't have the money; they didn't have the funds. But some of the states have done an incredible job once they got the funds. And great results.
We passed the CRIB Act, which allows Medicaid to help mothers and their babies, who are born physically dependent on opioids, by covering their care in residential pediatric recovery facilities.
To break the cycle of addiction, we must prevent young Americans from trying drugs in the first place. For this reason, we launched a nationwide public ad campaign to educate young people about the dangers of misusing prescription opioids. This campaign has already reached 58 percent of young adults.
And you won't see the results of this for a couple of years - two, three, four years - but the results are going to be there. They're really powerful ads. So you won't see it quickly, but people watching it - young people watching it, we're putting them on the right programming, I think. But young people watching these ads and what happens to people very descriptively, I think they're not going to be using drugs so easily. You'll see the results in the future.
To cut off the supply of ultra-lethal narcotics at the source, my administration has also prioritized stopping the influx of fentanyl from China.
And just over the last week, I want to thank Mexico, the Mexican government, their great President of Mexico, for helping us. They had a record catch a week ago of fentanyl that came in from China.
And, as you know, we have 26,000 Mexico troops on our border. And they're also bringing their numbers way down. It's - we were with the Commissioner a little while ago, the Secretary, and it's down over 50 percent from last year. So they're really making a lot of progress. But the Mexican government has been great. So we have 26,000 soldiers from Mexico guarding our border.
Now, if we'd have the same help from the Democrats, we could get legislation passed so easily, so quickly, that we wouldn't even need that kind of help from Mexico. But we really do appreciate it. First time that's ever happened where Mexico has helped us at the border. And they're helping us in a very big way. Far bigger than anybody thought even possible.
We've dramatically stepped up enforcement actions across the board, seizing more than 21,000 kilograms of heroin and nearly 8,000 kilograms of fentanyl since the beginning of 2011 . And the biggest one was last week.
In 2018, our High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program disrupted or dismantled almost 3,000 drug trafficking organizations. During that operation, the Department of Justice seized enough fentanyl to kill over 100,000 Americans. And that's not much, if you look; it's a little bit. This much can kill 100,000 people. It's - it's terrible. It's incredible. And we're getting a lot of it stopped.
The Department is prosecuting more fentanyl traffickers than ever before - we've never prosecuted so many, and we're going for the maximum penalty, which is a long time - and targeting seizures in areas most impacted by the crisis.
As a result of our aggressive efforts at every level of government, last year, America experienced the first nationwide decline in drug overdose deaths in nearly three decades. So that one is 30 years. So we've brought down drug prices for prescription drugs; that's over 50 years. And the overdose deaths in nearly three decades. That's something.
In the last two years, overdose deaths have fallen by 24 percent in Ohio, 24 percent in Pennsylvania, 8 percent in West Virginia, 20 percent in Iowa, 16 percent in Kentucky, and 10 percent in New Hampshire - all areas that have incredible problems with exactly what we're talking about.
But the battle has only just begun. We must continue fighting side-by-side to stop the menace once and for all. Together, we'll save thousands and thousands of our fellow Americans and the families of so many people.
We'll not rest until every American child can grow up free of the menace of drugs, empowered to realize their full and unlimited potential. So many lives are stopped cold by drugs, whether it's death or just a ruined life. Because, in many cases, you have ruined lives because of drugs. They never recover. They never recover.
And now I'd like to ask Secretary Azar to say a few words about the new funding. It's a record number. You add it all together and people never thought they'd see a thing like this, but we're making tremendous headway and I want to thank everybody with me today.
And, Secretary, if you could say a few words. Thank you. Thank you very much.
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