Good morning, pals. I'm writing to you fresh off a weekend in Bedminster, N.J., where the airplanes are grounded and the president is crashing weddings.
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Every day, 142 people die of a drug overdose in America.
That grim statistic is on the first page of the draft report that President Trump's opioid commission — headed by N.J. Gov. Chris Christie — released last week. It's the administration's opening move in combating the opioid crisis, an issue Trump often returned to on the campaign trail — though usually in connection with building a wall on the Mexican border to curb the drug trade. But the commission's report doesn't say anything about a wall; instead, it recommends a slew of public health measures aimed at getting more people into treatment and preventing addiction. And it recommends the president declare a national emergency.
According to the city's medical examiner, more than 900 people died of an overdose last year in Philadelphia, where the heroin is the cheapest and purest in the country. (And a new study shows that, in the past, the feds have significantly underestimated how many of those overdoses were caused by opioids, my colleague Don Sapatkin reported today.) City officials and addiction researchers told me they were encouraged by the commission's report, which mirrors some of their own recommendations for the city, like getting more people into medication-assisted addiction treatment (which, studies have shown, is effective but underutilized) and making it easier to get Narcan, the overdose-reversing drug.
"This is the biggest epidemic we've had in 100 years, bigger than AIDS," said Tom Farley, the city's health commissioner. "It touches everyone, and I think this is one problem that will transcend even the huge political divides in Washington."
Farley and other health officials say they hope the commission will push harder on curbing the overprescription of opioid painkillers, which is often how people become addicted in the first place. And the draft report doesn't mention safe-injection sites, a far more controversial measure that the city's heroin task force has nonetheless recommended for consideration — with the aim of simply keeping people alive in a city where overdoses are expected to hit 1,200 this year. (My colleague Mike Newall argues in favor of safe-injection sites here).
Trump is scheduled to give a "major briefing" on the opioid crisis from Bedminster at 3 p.m. today, so stay tuned.
Here is a lovely tribute to Darren Daulton, the Phillies catcher who led us to the World Series in 1993 (which, coincidentally, is one of my earliest memories) and died of brain cancer Sunday at 55.