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Trump's opioid initiative will seek death penalty for some traffickers

by Tim Stelloh and Monica Alba /

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The White House will try to stem the nation's opioid crisis partly by stiffening criminal penalties, including seeking the death penalty for drug traffickers, a senior official said Sunday.

The detail was included in a preview of President Donald Trump's opioid initiative, which he will announce Monday in New Hampshire.

In a conference call Sunday, the official said the death penalty would be sought for trafficking in some opioids, including fentanyl, "when appropriate under current law."

The official declined to offer specifics and directed reporters to the Justice Department, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Related: Opioids put more kids than ever into the hospital

Trump's plan will also seek to reduce the number of opioid prescriptions filled across the country by one-third — a number the official attributed to the tightening of federal reimbursement policies and prescribing practices.

"We have a problem of overusing," the official said.

The official added that the plan will include alternative, non-addictive treatment options and a public-private partnership between the National Institutes of Health and pharmaceutical companies.

A public awareness campaign will help reduce demand, the official said, while a crackdown on illegal drugs passing over the border will reduce supply.

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