Christie on opioids: ‘This is the AIDS epidemic of our generation, but even worse’

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who chairs the Trump administration’s commission on opioid abuse, said Friday the prescription drug crisis is “the AIDS epidemic of our generation, but even worse” and previewed a report from his panel due next week.

“This is so awful. We consume 85% of all the opioids in the world in this country. We are the most medicated country in the world, and it’s unnecessary,” Christie said in an interview on CNN’s “New Day.”

“What it has led to now is the 64,000 deaths last year. This is the medical crisis of our time. This is the AIDS epidemic of our generation, but even worse. And the other thing I don’t understand is, why aren’t people marching?,” Christie said. “I am old enough to remember the marches by AIDS patients and people that cared about that issue, in Washington, in state capitals, demanding action. These families need to be supported and that’s what the commission is all about.”

Christie sought to place the gravity of the crisis in context, explaining that “we have 175 people a day dying. We have a 9/11 every two and a half weeks. If a terrorist organization was killing 175 Americans a day on our soil, we would look into how to make it stop.”

The New Jersey governor, who spoke passionately about the drug crisis during his unsuccessful 2016 campaign for president, said his commission has “a lot of work to do” but that “we are excited about issuing our final report next week.” Christie noted specifically that the Trump administration was moving to change Medicaid rules in an effort to unlock additional federal funds for addiction treatment, and said that doctors with licenses to write prescriptions should receive more training on addiction and treatment.

Christie was also asked about the political feuds roiling the Republican Party — Republican Sens. Bob Corker and Jeff Flake issued stunning denunciations of President Donald Trump earlier this week — as they attempt to take on tax reform and pass a new budget.

Asked to rate GOP unity on a scale from 1 to 10, Christie gave his party a “5” and said “we are unified on a lot of issues, but not on how to approach the issues, and if you are not unified on both, you will not get things done.”

He continued, “We are unified on the issues, and the things we believe in in general, but we are not yet unified on how to get from point A to point B. Governing is about getting things done, touchdowns in the end zone. And we are not doing that yet.”