Congressman Barr issued the following statement after attending the President’s declaration of the opioid epidemic as a National Public Health Emergency:

“The President’s decision to declare the opioid addiction epidemic as a National Public Health Emergency and to announce significant policy changes are necessary and appropriate responses to this crisis which is wreaking havoc in communities across the country, including Kentucky.  I was proud to join the President, Governor Bevin, and many of my colleagues in Congress at the White House yesterday to support this historic declaration.”

“Last year, Congress came together to pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and the 21st Century Cures Act, which invested more resources to fight the crisis, its underlying causes, and to put more Americans into recovery.  We can and should do more to invest in these and other programs to help more Kentuckians lead productive and meaningful lives free from addiction.”


In 2016, more than two million Americans had an addiction to prescription or illicit opioids. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of injury death in the United States, outnumbering both traffic crashes and gun-related deaths, and Kentucky has the third highest drug overdose mortality rate in the nation.

The President’s declaration of a National Public Health Emergency will help overcome bureaucratic delays and inefficiencies by allowing the Department of Health and Human Services to more quickly make temporary appointments of specialists with the tools and talent needed to respond effectively to the crisis.

The President also announced that he would seek changes to the Medicaid Institutions of Mental Diseases (IMD) rule that currently prohibits states from providing care for drug addiction at certain treatment facilities with more than sixteen beds.

The CDC has launched the Prescription Awareness Campaign, a multimedia awareness campaign featuring the real-life stories of people who have lost loved ones to prescription opioid overdose and people in recovery. 

The Food and Drug Administration is imposing new requirements on the manufacturers of prescription opioids to help reverse the overprescribing that has fueled the crisis. 

The Department of Justice’s Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit is targeting individuals that are contributing to the prescription opioid epidemic, has netted the largest-ever health care fraud takedown, secured the first-ever indictments against Chinese fentanyl manufacturers, and seized AlphaBay, the largest criminal marketplace on the Internet and a major source of fentanyl and heroin.

The National Institutes of Health has initiated discussions with the pharmaceutical industry to establish a partnership to investigate non-addictive pain relievers and new addiction and overdose treatments, as well as a potential vaccine for addiction.

The Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, National Institutes of Health, and Department of Health and Human Services are collaborating on a six-year, $81 million joint research partnership focusing on nondrug approaches to managing pain in order to address the needs of service members and veterans.