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Trump warns that opioid crisis threatens everyone

© AFP | US President Donald Trump speaks on the opioid addiction crisis at a meeting with administration officials, including Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price (L) in Bedminster, New Jersey, on August 8, 2017

BEDMINSTER (UNITED STATES) (AFP) - 

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday sought to rally support to fight the opioid crisis, a public health disaster he warned was threatening all Americans.

"It's a tremendous problem in our country, and I hope we get it taken care of as well as it can be taken care of. Hopefully better than any other country that also has these same problems," Trump said from his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he is on a two-week "working vacation."

"Nobody is safe from this epidemic that threatens all -- young and old, rich and poor, urban and rural communities. Everybody is threatened," Trump stressed.

Prescription painkillers and heroin contributed to an estimated 60,000 overdose deaths in the United States in 2016, a 19 percent surge over the previous year, according to an estimate compiled by the New York Times.

An estimated two to three million people are hooked on prescription painkillers or heroin, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

States and local municipalities have been sounding alarms over the growing and highly lethal epidemic in which addicts can resort to highly potent drugs such as the synthetic opioid fentanyl -- which is some 50 times more potent than morphine and can kill on contact with skin.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week announced a campaign to mine health care data to identify doctors and pharmacists who are illegally overprescribing and distributing opioids, and 12 prosecutors will fan out around the country to charge offenders.

© 2017 AFP