Jonathan Allen, REUTERS
NEW YORK (Reuters) — It has become a recurrent moment in Hillary Clinton’s speeches as she campaigns for the presidency: softening her voice to a hush, she says she wants to end the “quiet epidemic” of Americans dying from overdoses of painkillers and other drugs.
Often, she remarks how surprised she is to find herself discussing the problem, which is now among the leading causes of injury death in the United States. Prescription painkiller overdoses alone kill an average of 44 people each day according to the federal government. Several of her rivals for the presidency have said they plan to do something about it if elected in November 2016.
In Clinton’s case, she says she decided to put the issue high on her campaign agenda only after she started to meet affected voters in April. In stops hundreds of miles apart, people she talked to in coffeeshops and at campaign events repeatedly described the struggles their families and neighbors were facing with the addictive pills and other drugs, she says.
What she has not yet publicly discussed while campaigning are personal links she has to the epidemic: In 2011, overdoses of opioid painkillers killed two young men known to her and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.