BIDEN Calls Attention to 'Generation Rx' and the Abuse of Prescription and Over-the-Counter Drugs

Press Release

By:  Joe Biden, Jr.
Date: March 12, 2008
Location: Washington, DC


BIDEN Calls Attention to 'Generation Rx' and the Abuse of Prescription and Over-the-Counter Drugs

BIDEN: "This is a national problem that is going to require a coordinated, national solution."

Today U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime & Drugs and Caucus on International Narcotics Control, held a joint hearing entitled "Generation Rx: The Abuse of Prescription and Over-the-Counter Drugs." The hearing focused on the alarming trends associated with abuse rates of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, and the need to robustly fund drug education and prevention programs.

"It's not just the illegal street drugs that we parents and policymakers have to worry about. Prescription drugs can also be dangerously addictive and lethal," said Sen. Biden. "We've got to fundamentally change the attitudes of parents and teens when it comes to abusing medicines. There is a grave misperception that just because these drugs are legal when properly prescribed and monitored, they are always safeĀ—in any dose. That is simply not true."

Seven of the top eleven drugs most commonly abused by high school seniors are prescription or over-the-counter drugs, reflecting a disturbing national trend. Vicodin and Amphetamines now rank up there with marijuana as the top three most commonly abused drugs among 12th graders. And, in 2006 more people started abusing prescription pain relievers than any other drug.

"Take my word for it: trends matter. We've got to get a handle on these abuse rates before they get worse," said Sen. Biden. "This is clearly a national problem that is going to require a coordinated, national solution."

The hearing featured expert witnesses Dr. Len Paulozzi, medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Steve Pasierb, President and CEO of The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, and Derek Clark, Director of the Clinton Substance Abuse Council in Clinton, IA, testified about teen and parent attitudes associated with medicine abuse, and community prevention efforts. The final witness, Misty Fetko, is a registered nurse who tragically lost her son Carl Hennon in 2003, due to an overdose of a combination of over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers.

Sen. Biden also urged his colleagues to support the Dextromethorphan Abuse Reduction Act (S. 2274), which he introduced in October 2007. This legislation aims to curb the alarming rise in medicine abuse, including teens' misuse of cough and cold medicines containing Dextromethorphan (DXM).