White House pledges to improve drug overdose efforts

By Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden’s administration pledged on Tuesday to improve its efforts to tackle drug overdoses that claimed the lives of an estimated 100,000 Americans last year, using a House summit Blanche to tout a multi-faceted approach to tackling synthetic and illicit drugs such as the powerful opioid fentanyl.

“Today’s summit is necessary because the global and regional drug environment has changed dramatically in only a few years,” said Rahul Gupta, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, at the summit, which is being held in conjunction with public health officials. from Mexico and Canada.

Gupta added that “synthetic drugs have truly become a global threat.”

Biden administration officials have said they will use tools like drugs to reverse opioid overdoses and use data collection to guide their efforts.

“Today we are here to … examine how our collective response can be improved and the role data collection has in saving lives,” Gupta said.

More than 109,000 Americans died of drug overdoses last year, with about two-thirds involving synthetic drugs such as fentanyl, according to data shared at the summit.

Unprecedented numbers of people die each year from overdoses and poisonings in the United States, Mexico and Canada, Gupta said.

US Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra said a regional approach to addressing the overdose and addictions crisis is essential.

The Biden administration said last month it was seeking to meet with the makers of the lifesaving drug naloxone, used to reverse opioid overdoses, in a bid to increase access and reduce costs.

Opioid abuse has plagued the United States for more than two decades and has killed more than half a million Americans, according to federal data, turning highly addictive painkillers into a public health crisis.

The White House said in April that the United States planned to step up its efforts to disrupt the illicit financial activities of drug traffickers involved in the fentanyl trade by increasing the use of sanctions.

Some U.S. lawmakers have called on the Biden administration to take a tougher line and pressure Mexico to crack down on fentanyl trafficking. A handful of Republican lawmakers have called on the US military to bomb Mexican cartels and their labs inside Mexico — a proposal the Biden administration has not embraced.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Will Dunham)

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