As Prepared For Delivery:

Thank you, Dr. Gupta, for your leadership on this issue of such great importance to the American people. We are so grateful for your holistic approach to tackling the opioid crisis not only at the federal level, but also at the state level in West Virginia. Thank you for everything you do.

In the 12 months ending in January, we lost more than 109,000 Americans to a drug overdose.

Almost 7 in 10 overdose deaths can be attributed to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

Fentanyl adulterated with xylazine presents another rising threat.

A recent CDC report found that xylazine was detected in nearly 11 percent of fentanyl-involved deaths.[1]

The proportion of xylazine-involved deaths is continuously growing, and so is our concern.

These figures are tragic. They represent individuals, families, friends, and communities torn apart by opioids.  

Addressing this crisis is a top priority for this Administration. This is why the President named ending the opioid and overdose epidemic a key pillar in his Unity agenda.

He challenged us to reduce the number of drug overdose deaths in two ways:

First, by aggressively expanding access to prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery support for those with substance use disorders;

And second, by taking bold actions to disrupt the supply of illicit drugs, especially fentanyl, that are harming our communities.

Over the course of the Administration, we have made historic investments to help communities.

We have approved Narcan, a naloxone spray that reverses the effects of opioids, for over-the-counter use. This will save lives.

We have distributed much-needed funding to states so they can address the opioid epidemic.

We have expanded access to evidence-based treatments for treating opioid use disorder by removing administrative barriers for providers.

We have enabled greater use of telehealth. And so much more.

At the same time, we have taken decisive and significant action to block illicit fentanyl at the border.

Our tough actions have resulted in record amounts seized over the past two years.

We’ve also gone after drug cartels and drug traffickers by targeting their profits, breaking up their networks, and hitting them where it hurts.

Earlier this year, the President announced several additional actions that will help us save more lives and make our communities safer.

Just last week, we also announced new global partnerships with more than 70 countries to target the illicit fentanyl supply chain.

Additionally, President Biden has requested a record $46.1 billion from Congress to implement his National Drug Control Strategy.

While our critical work to address fentanyl will continue, we are also focused on addressing the harms posed by fentanyl adulterated with xylazine, as Dr. Gupta will discuss.

Xylazine is a powerful tranquilizer not approved for human use.

Unfortunately, it is now being mixed with fentanyl—with devastating health consequences for those who use drugs.

Today, I’m glad to join Dr. Gupta in announcing the release of the Administration’s National Response Plan to Address Fentanyl Adulterated with Xylazine.

This plan outlines key steps and actions across the whole of government to address this public health and public safety threat.

As Dr. Gupta will discuss, our plan includes six pillars:

  • Testing;
  • Data Collection;
  • Evidence-Based Prevention, Harm Reduction, and Treatment;
  • Supply Reduction;
  • Scheduling; and
  • Research.

Our goal is to get fentanyl combined with xylazine off of our streets and out of our communities.

This plan is a key first step toward that goal— builds on our work to meet our broader goal to tackle the opioid and overdose epidemic.  

Thank you. With that, I will turn it over to Dr. Gupta.

[1] CDC report refers to period from January 2019 to June 2022, among 32 jurisdictions:

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