NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) -The Nation’s Drug Czar was in Louisiana Thursday to address the opioid epidemic. He and U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) met with those on the front lines of the addiction crisis.
“I want the Czar to hear from our people on the ground,” Kennedy said. “We lost more people to opioid deaths last year than we did to car wrecks.”
“I could hear firsthand what’s happening down here and try to direct more resources here to help the people,” said Jim Carroll who is Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Both say part of the problem is fentanyl coming into the United States from other countries. In the last year, Kennedy traveled to china to address the issue.
“We pleaded with them to crack down on their fentanyl producers in China because 90% of the fentanyl that comes into the United States comes from China to Mexico to the U.S.,” he said.
Kennedy said a recent example in West Virginia shows just how bad the opioid epidemic has become in the United States.
“When drug companies and physicians, we’re all responsible, but when they’re selling three million pills to a town, through a pharmacy, of 400 people over a 10 month period, I mean come on it’s obvious the DEA never should have allowed that to happen,” said Kennedy.
Carroll said Louisiana has been hit hard in the last few years by opioids.
“But, Senator Kennedy has worked with President Trump, has worked with my office, to try to get more funds here to help the situation. Sadly, all of the drugs that are killing people here in Louisiana are coming from out of the country, they’re either coming from China or they’re coming from Mexico or both,” said Carroll.
Kennedy’s office says there were over 400 opioid-related deaths in Louisiana in 2017 compared to 238 in 2013. More than half of the deaths in Louisiana are from Orleans, Jefferson, St. Tammany and East Baton Rouge parishes.