Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is taking a much more pragmatic approach to the opioid crisis than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who recently called for a “Medicine-for-All” system that includes drugs that are used for treatment and not for profit.
In an interview with MSNBC, Sanders said the U.S. is facing “an epidemic of overdose deaths and overdoses of all kinds.”
The U.N. estimates that the country’s death toll from opioid overdoses has reached 4.7 million, with more than 1.4 million people having died of overdoses in 2016.
Sanders said the prescription opioid crisis has become a national priority.
“This is an epidemic of death and suffering,” he said.
“If we do not act now, it will be a national crisis.
will be living in a national emergency.”
Clinton recently called on the U to move quickly to expand access to prescription painkillers, and called on pharmaceutical companies to pay a “dignified” price for the drugs.
But Sanders said that would be a recipe for further addiction, especially in the United States, where many people don’t have access to insurance or access to medication.
“I think what’s wrong is that we have a situation where you have millions of people in the country who are not getting the drugs they need because of the high cost of the drugs,” he added.
“That’s a recipe to keep people addicted.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.