AG Sessions to address US opioid crisis in Ohio speech

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is set to give a speech in Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday on the impact of the nation’s growing opioid epidemic.

Sessions is scheduled to address law enforcement officials and families affected by the crisis in a state that sees about eight deaths per day from accidental overdoses.

More than 52,000 Americans died in 2015 from drug overdoses -- including 3,050 in Ohio.

In May, Sessions instructed federal prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges possible against most drug suspects, as a possible deterrent.

Wednesday’s scheduled speech comes just as President Trump received a report Monday from the administration’s drug commission, urging him to declare a national emergency to deal with the crisis, the BBC reported.

Doing so would allow the federal government to modify Medicaid and Medicare rules to make it easier for patients to seek treatment, reported.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, appointed by Trump to head the team, has dedicated his final year in office to fighting the issue.

The recommendations made in Monday’s report coincide with a recent survey from the National Institute on Drug and Abuse
estimating that 92 million Americans used opioid drugs in 2015. That is roughly 1-in-3 Americans.

Researchers estimate that approximately 38 percent of adults in the U.S. were prescribed opioids in 2015.

Meanwhile, more than two-dozen state, city and county governments are suing the makers of prescription painkillers, claiming the industry misled physicians and the public about the
risks of addition.

A coalition of states is also considering a Big Tobacco-style lawsuit to help pay for the opioid epidemic, Fox News has reported.

“We’re very much at war here,” New Jersey state Attorney General Christopher Porrino said recently. His state saw 1,600 opioid-related deaths in 2015, Fox News reported.

This story includes reporting from the Associated Press.