President Trump vows to 'liberate' United States from opioid epidemic: 'Failure is not an option'

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump promised to liberate the United States the opioid epidemic.
  • Trump called for the more frequent use of the death penalty for drug dealers.
  • He also said Democrats should stop blocking his efforts to build a border wall with Mexico.
Trump: Considering suing drug firms in opioid crisis
Trump: Considering suing drug firms in opioid crisis

President Donald Trump vowed Monday to "liberate" the United States from the epidemic of opioid abuse as his administration released a broad slate of measures to tackle the crisis.

"Failure is not an option. Addiction is not our future," Trump said during a speech in Manchester, New Hampshire, a state that has one of the highest rates of fatal drug overdoses nationally.

"We will not rest until the end, and I will tell you that this scourge of drug addiction will stop. It will stop," Trump said.

And in a promise that will be very difficult, it not impossible to fulfill, Trump said, "We will raise a drug-free generation of American children."

An estimated 116 American every day die from drug overdoses, many of them related to opioids that include prescription painkillers, heroin or synthetic products like fentanyl and carfentanil.

Under a three-prong approached revealed Monday, the Trump administration plans to reduce demand and overprescription of opiods, cut off the supply of illegal drugs and help people addicted to drugs by expanding access to treatment.

Among other measures, the president said his administration is considering launching a federal lawsuit targeting makers of prescription painkillers. Many municipalities and states already are pursuing such civil litigation, which seeks damages for actions the plaintiffs have said fueled the opioid epidemic.

The stock prices of a number of companies that make prescription opioids fell on the heels of Trump's comments.

Trump also called for the more frequent use of the death penalty in prosecutions of drug traffickers under existing law.

"We have to get tough on those people. If we don't get tough on drug dealers, we're wasting our time," he said. "That toughness includes the death penalty."

Trump called on Democrats to stop blocking his efforts to build a wall on the border of Mexico, a project that he said would stem the flow of drugs into the United States.

"Eventually, we'll build the wall to keep the damn drugs out," he said.

Trump also blasted so-called sanctuary cities which limit cooperation with federal immigration officials, saying their policies are keeping undocumented immigrants on the streets and committing crimes.

Other measures announced by Trump on Monday include achieving a goal of reducing the number of opioid prescriptions by one-third by adjusting federal policies related to prescription reimbursement.

He also said the federal government will be "spending a lot of money on great commercials showing how bad" drug abuse is, which will target children.

"So when they see those commercials they think, 'I don't want any part of it,'" Trump said.

During his speech, Trump seemed to indicate that his legacy as president will be linked to his success at curbing the opioid crisis.

"I don't want to leave at the end of seven years and have this problem, right?"

But he also said, "We will win. We're going to win."

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., criticized Trump for his response to the opioid epidemic since becoming president.

"We are over a year into the Trump presidency, and the thousands of Granite Staters who are working tirelessly to turn the tide on our state's raging opioid crisis are still waiting for a federal response that matches the scope of this deadly epidemic," Shea-Porter said.

"New Hampshire has the third-highest drug overdose death rate in the U.S.," she noted.

"The fact is, President Trump has spent the last year dithering on how to respond to this crisis and ignoring the recommendations of his own panel. Patrick Kennedy, one of the six members on the president's bipartisan opioid commission, called the administration's efforts to address the crisis 'tantamount to reshuffling the chairs on the Titanic,' 'a sham' and a 'charade.'"

WATCH: Justice Dept. forms opioid task force

Justice Department forms opioid task force
Justice Department forms opioid task force