After U.S. Surgeon General Issues New Advisory, Cummings Urges Trump to Implement His Own Opioid Commission’s Recommendation to Lower Naloxone Prices

Apr 11, 2018
Press Release

After U.S. Surgeon General Issues New Advisory,

Cummings Urges Trump to Implement His Own Opioid

Commission’s Recommendation to Lower Naloxone Prices


Washington, D.C. (Apr. 11, 2018)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter calling on President Donald Trump to finally implement the recommendation made nearly nine months ago by his own Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis to authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate directly with drug companies to lower the exorbitant prices they are charging for the lifesaving drug naloxone.

Cummings sent his letter today after the Surgeon General of the United States, VADM Jerome M. Adams, M.D., issued a public health advisory—for the first time in more than a decade—emphasizing the importance of expanding access to naloxone to combat the opioid crisis.

“Expanding the awareness and availability of this medication is a key part of the public health response to the opioid epidemic,” the Surgeon General wrote.  “Therefore, increasing the availability and targeted distribution of naloxone is a critical component of our efforts to reduce opioid-related overdose deaths and, when combined with the availability of effective treatment, to ending the opioid epidemic.”

In his letter to President Trump today, Cummings highlighted that President’s own Commission recommended—back on July 31, 2017—that the President should “empower the HHS Secretary to negotiate reduced pricing for all governmental units.”  

“The opioid crisis is the most significant health challenge our nation has faced in a generation.  Americans across the country—in blue states and red states—are suffering, and it is time to act.  Declaring an emergency is not enough,” Cummings wrote.  “I ask you to take action now to implement your own Commission’s recommendation—and heed the advice of the Nation’s Doctor—to ensure that this life-saving drug is available to everyone who needs it.”

On September 19, 2017, Cummings led more than 50 of Members of Congress in writing to urge the President to implement the naloxone recommendation, but the President failed to respond in any way. 

On November 28, 2017, Governor Christie testified before the Oversight Committee to emphasize the urgency of this recommendation and others, stating:  “There is much that divides political dialogue in our country right now that makes it very difficult for us to get things done.  This cannot be one of them.”  

“[Y]ou have taken no action to implement this recommendation over the past nine months,” Cummings wrote to the President.  “Currently, first responders do not have the naloxone they need to address this crisis.  They are being forced to ration this life-saving drug because drug companies have increased their prices.”

On December 21, 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data showing “an unprecedented surge” in the national opioid epidemic. Reports indicate that the expanding opioid crisis is now the single most influential factor driving down overall life expectancy in the United States.

Click here to read the full letter.

115th Congress