Dr. Marc Siegel heralds opioid progress in year following Trump's emergency declaration

Dr. Marc Siegel, a medical school professor at New York University, Wednesday praised the progress made against the opioid epidemic since President Donald Trump declared the issue a national public health emergency in 2017.

"Prescribing of opioids ... is down 25 percent over a year period," Siegel said during an appearance on "Outnumbered Overtime." He also is a Fox News contributor. "That's huge because that's the engine in a way that's driving this."

He also touted the 3.5 percent decrease in deaths due to opioids. "That's huge," Siegel told host Melissa Francis, "because it's the number one cause of accidental death in the United States."

Siegel's comments came just before the president and First Lady Melania Trump spoke at a drug abuse summit in Atlanta, Georgia on Wednesday.

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Siegel argued that beyond prescription rates, a culture of loneliness and separation fueled the opioid epidemic. "It's a culture of loneliness, of separation, of a community health problem ... unemployment."

Just a week before Siegel's comments, the administration announced charges against 60 individuals for allegedly participating in illegal distribution and prescribing of opioids and other narcotics.

The Health and Human Services Department also said it excluded 2,000 indiviudals from federal health programs due to their involvement with opioid diversion and abuse.

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At the event on Wednesday, the president touted his administration's progress on the issue. “My administration is deploying every resource at our disposal to empower you, to support you and to fight right by your side,” he also said.

“We will not solve this epidemic overnight but we will stop. … We will never stop until our job is done.”