While at a substance abuse forum in Boston, Massachusetts last week, Hillary Clinton explained her $10 billion plan to provide resources for confronting drug and alcohol addiction in the United States, but she also had some harsh words for the Food and Drug Administration regarding a recent decision to approve the use of hardcore opioids such as oxycodone for children as young as eleven years of age.
“I am very concerned that the FDA has approved a form of opioids for children, and I find that absolutely incomprehensible,” Clinton told an audience of addiction advocates at the event. She said the root of the problem is apparent on its surface. “The heroin epidemic is a prescription drug created epidemic,” she told the audience, explaining that many patients become addicted to prescription pain relievers, only to switch to street drugs such as heroin after their prescription for the opiate-based Oxycontin runs out.
Clinton says the federal government must do a better job of regulating opiate painkillers, and as president, she would institute policy aimed at combatting the crisis of addiction that has unfolded in families across America. She also pledged that, as president, she would make sure naloxone, a drug used to reverse the effects of heroin overdose, is available on college campuses, in community centers and in workplaces across the United States.
Her proposal includes $10 billion in funding to pay for education and training to prevent addiction, as well as increasing a focus on treatment and recover programs within local communities. She says the funding would come, in part, from savings based on diversion programs. In a nod toward the idea that the war on drugs has failed, she says said that the funds for more programs would come from diverting drug offenders to treatment, rather than jails or prison.
“Let’s be just really blunt about this,” she said. “Most people are ending up in prison and in jail because there is an overlap between mental health problems that people self-medicate with alcohol and drugs…”
As far as the prescribing of oxycontin and other opiates to youngsters aged eleven to sixteen, Clinton says the FDA’s guidelines indicate a lapse in judgment that she plans to remedy. “I’m going to direct the FDA to take another look and do a much better job at seeing who should receive these drugs in what doses for how long,” she said.