Ousted Surgeon General Slams Tom Price for Comments on Addiction

Just weeks after being ousted as surgeon general, Vivek Murthy on Thursday offered Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price a polite scolding for his recent comments on treating addiction. After Price dismissed the effectiveness of medication-based addiction treatment this week, Murthy took Price to task on Twitter. “Science, not opinion, should guide our recommendations and policies,” Murthy wrote. He later confirmed to STAT that his comment was aimed at Price, saying the health secretary’s remarks have wider implications for the entire Trump administration’s stance on the issue. “If recent comments from the administration indicate a shift away from an evidence-based, public-health approach to the opioid crisis, I am concerned the negative impact on the health of Americans will be considerable,” he wrote. “It is important that people know the truth about what science says about opioid addiction treatment: Medication-assisted treatment works.” Price had earlier scoffed at the idea of medication-based treatment being effective, saying in an interview that “substituting one opioid for another” means “we’re not moving the dial much.” The back-and-forth comes amid increasing concerns about a nationwide opioid epidemic, an issue that President Trump promised to tackle during his campaign. Last week, however, the head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy said Trump had proposed a nearly 95 percent budget cut to the agency, a move that would force the drugs office to close several programs aimed at curbing the epidemic.