Jan. 30 (UPI) -- White House officials said Thursday President Donald Trump's sustained effort to stem the opioid epidemic has led to a United States in which drug-related deaths are down and life expectancy is up.
Drug czar Jim Carroll, Assistant Public Health Administration Secretary Brett Giroir and White House adviser Kellyanne Conway detailed the administration's progress in the fight, telling reporters the numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics are results of the president's tough anti-drug policies.
"[The statistics are] a testament to the president and his leadership on this issue," Carroll said. "It's an example of what can happen when we apply that whole-of-government approach."
New figures Thursday showed U.S. life expectancy for newborns in the United States is up to 78.7 years, following four straight years of declines. The center attributed the rise mainly to decreases in mortality from cancer and deadly injuries.
Deaths from drug overdoses fell in 2018 for the first time in nearly 30 years, they said, mostly due to fewer cases involving prescription opioids and heroin. There were more than 67,000 overdose deaths in 2018, the most recent year for which officials have statistics, representing a decrease of 4.1 percent from 2017.
Carroll cited the administration's ramping up coordination with China to keep synthetic opioids out of the United States. He also credited efforts to stem drugs from Mexico and arrests of roughly 100,000 suspected traffickers.
"The president's efforts are working and making progress," Carroll said.
Giroir also said physicians are prescribing fewer opioids -- 37 percent fewer -- but warned drug abuse is still an emergency situation, due to hundreds of thousands who still receive addiction treatment.