Checking in on Trump's promises to combat the opioid epidemic

WASHINGTON -- As President Trump inartfully acknowledged in his call with Mexico's president, New Hampshire is an epicenter of the opioid crisis.

He campaigned on a series of policy prescriptions there.

"I promised the people of New Hampshire that I would stop drugs from pouring into your communities," he said during the campaign.

CBS News sat down last week with Richard Baum, acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

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Richard Baum

CBS News

"I would give us, give us an A+," Baum said when asked to grade the administration's performance on the issue so far.

When asked to assess progress on Mr. Trump's promises in the New Hampshire speech, his answers suggested the grade is more of an incomplete.

"We will stop the flow of illegal drugs into our country," Mr. Trump said in the speech.

"So having the men and women of Customs and Border Protection and DHS on our border working with infrastructure … is progress and movement in the right direction," Baum said of progress on that promise.

"We will close the shipping loopholes that China and others are exploiting to send dangerous drugs across our borders," Mr. Trump pledged.

"We are working closely with the Congress on legislation to have better and tighter controls," Baum said.

"I would dramatically expand first responders' and caregivers' access to Narcan, an antidote that, really, it's an antidote that treats overdoses," Mr. Trump promised.

"Well, we in the administration have been advocating for access to Naloxone, Narcan," Baum replied.

The president's budget asks for $10.7 billion for drug treatment, a $200 million increase. But it would cut $167 million from abuse prevention.

And the Trump administration has tried to take credit for what's already in place.

"President Trump and Secretary Price put out $500 million for the 21st Century Cures Act," Baum said. When pressed, he acknowledged that money was from the Obama administration.

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Gary Mendell

CBS News

"There's no question that candidate Trump was very vocal about attacking this issue. To date, the administration hasn't done anything," said Gary Mendell, an advocate who lost his son to the opioid epidemic.

The president formed an opioid commission in March. This week, the commission called on Mr. Trump to declare a national emergency and "act boldly to stop it."

CBS News pointed out to Baum that Mr. Trump had been in West Virginia and Ohio in recent weeks and did not mention the word "opioid."

"I'm meeting with people all through the administration at the highest level. And I can tell you … I can tell you there's very strong commitment by the White… by the White House and by the president on this problem," Baum said in response.

The president was in West Virginia again Thursday night and said there's "a big problem" there. 

On Friday, the Drug Enforcement Agency proposed a 20 percent cut in some of the most commonly prescribed opioids, along the lines of a promise Mr. Trump made in that New Hampshire speech.

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    Julianna Goldman is a CBS News correspondent based in the Washington bureau.