«Between 2013 and 2017, more than 67,000 people died of synthetic-opioid-related overdoses — exceeding the number of U.S. military personnel killed during the Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined. The number of deaths, the vast majority from fentanyl, has risen sharply each year.
Drug treatment experts compared the government’s slow response to an earlier failure to face the AIDS epidemic.
“There was a stigma about being gay,” said Luke J. Nasta, executive director of the largest drug treatment facility on Staten Island, N.Y. “There is also a stigma about being addicted to drugs. The entire society is suffering and the government can’t seem to get their arms around this epidemic.
“If it’s an epidemic, then treat it like an epidemic.”
The drug czar’s office depended on overdose data from the CDC. But data from the field was sometimes a year behind, and local coroners and medical examiners were not always testing for fentanyl.
“It’s incredibly frustrating when you feel like, given the resources of the United States, that we can’t harness those resources in ways that help us see around the corner,” Botticelli said.
“A great deal would have been done by the White House simply saying we have this horrible danger out there,” said Walters, the earlier drug czar. “We saw more action by the White House over an outbreak of tainted food, giving out news releases telling people what to look for, telling people to protect their friends and family, than you did for fentanyl. It’s a little ridiculous that we don’t use the bully pulpit to at least provide a national warning.”
In the summer of 2016, a few months after the fentanyl letter, the Obama administration declared the Zika virus to be a public health emergency and had already requested $1.9 billion from Congress to address it. Two people in the United States died of Zika-related illnesses.»
Because food poisoning and mosquito bites are a threat to us, but drug overdoses are only a threat to them.