Office of National Drug Control Policy May Face Drastic Funding Cuts

The White House’s fiscal 2018 budget proposes a 95 percent cut to funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the organization leading the fight against the national opioid crisis and other drug epidemics.

The budget proposed a mere $24 million for the ONDCP in 2018 – a drastic decrease from 2017, when the agency received $388 million. Two of its main programs, the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program and the Drug-Free Communities Support program, would be eliminated under the proposal. The budget states that both programs, which coordinate efforts to reduce drug trafficking and prevent substance abuse, are “duplicative of other federal programs.”

Salaries and expenses would also be affected, with a $7 million loss effectively cutting 33 full-time positions, almost half of the agency’s total staff of 70.

The budget proposal has already cleared the White House budget office but still needs to be approved by Congress.

The use of opioids for chronic pain has been a topic of debate recently, with some arguing that increased prescribing and sales of opioids have created an epidemic of abuse. Physicians and others in the pharmaceutical industry fear that restrictions on opioids will create unfair hurdles for patients who need the medications, including cancer patients who have persistent pain following treatment.

Source: Politico, May 5, 2017.