The White House held a summit on the opioid epidemic Thursday, where the first lady, Melania Trump, made a speech on opioid policies. She said that she is proud of the accomplishments the administration has made on the issue, but also that there is more work to be done.
The administration, however, has lagged behind public demand for resources and treatment for the opioid epidemic in the eyes of many advocates.
The President, who was not set to participate, dropped in on the event. He introduced a personal friend who lost his son to drugs, and laid out some plans for opioid policies to battle the crisis.
He said that he has spoken with Attorney General Jeff Sessions about opening up a lawsuit against some opioid companies.
After declaring the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency in October, advocates for the issue and members of Congress have complained that they haven’t seen much action and have struggle to find information about what the administration is doing to mitigate the effects of widespread drug abuse.
Officials from the White House are insisting that they have been hard at work, noting the opioid summit. The event featured various members of the President’s cabinet, and included counselor Kellyanne Conway.
The White House said the event was intended highlight the progress they have made to tackle the opioid crisis.
Opioid related overdoses killed more than 42,000 United States citizens in 2016, an average of 115 deaths a day.
In November, the administration’s commission on opioids released a set of recommendations, most of which remain in progress or unaddressed.
In the last few weeks, there has been a congressional budget agreement, an announcement for a new $1 billion spending bill aimed to provide treatment resources, and the Department of Justice announced that it would work with states suing opioid manufacturers.
Advocates are saying that it is still far too short of what they had been hoping for, and that they are interested to see what new information they could learn from the summit.