Today, Representatives Mary Bono Mack (CA-45) and Hal Rogers (KY-05) issued the following statements in response to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) report released yesterday that shows a 400 percent increase between 1998 and 2008 in the number of people admitted for treatment of prescription drug abuse (of all substance abuse admissions).
"This alarming figure illustrates how serious and dangerous prescription drug abuse is to Americans, especially to our youth," said Bono Mack. "Prescription drugs have become the drug of choice because of easy access - with over half the people abusing prescription pain relievers getting them from family and friends. We have to work on all levels to fight this disturbing trend through education, working with law enforcement, and putting policies in place to better prevent abuse. I am proud to have formed the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse with Congressman Hal Rogers in June. We have a lot of hard work to do to fight this growing problem."
"This report confirms that the epidemic of prescription drug abuse is increasing at alarming rates in communities small and large and makes the case that we need to address this issue at all levels of government, including the strategic linking of robust state monitoring programs," said Congressman Hal Rogers. "Congress needs to put pressure on the FDA to wake up to the havoc that the diversion of Oxycontin, Xanax, and similar prescription drugs can wreak on families and communities across our nation. Similarly, we need to give state and local law enforcement the tools necessary to go after pain pill mills and rogue Internet pharmacies to curb the influx of these drugs. I look forward to the Caucus' continued collaboration with SAMHSA and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to raise awareness among my colleagues in Congress, the health community, and all Americans about the addictive dangers behind the medicine cabinet."
The SAMHSA report found a fourfold increase in the number of people 12 years old and over admitted for prescription pain reliever abuse treatment between 1998 and 2008. The report found that this increase was especially pronounced among those aged 18 to 24, where the percentage of all admissions for abuse of prescription pain relievers skyrocketed from 1.5 percent in 1998 to 13.7 percent in 2008. The report notes that these trends cross socio-economic, geographic, ethnic and educational status. It also notes that nonmedical users of prescription pain relievers mostly obtained the medication from a friend or family member. In conjunction with the release of the report, at a joint press conference, ONDCP, SAMHSA, and Delaware Governor Jack Markell noted the need for interoperable state prescription drug monitoring programs to assist physicians when making prescribing decisions and reduce the illicit diversion of these drugs at the street level.
Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack and Congressman Hal Rogers (KY) launched the bi-partisan Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse on June 3, 2010. The Caucus aims to raise awareness of abuse, and to work towards innovative and effective policy solutions incorporating treatment, prevention, law enforcement and research. Representatives Bill Delahunt (MA-10), Stephen Lynch (MA-09) and Connie Mack (FL-14) are also original caucus members. The Caucus is holding its first forum in Washington D.C. on September 22nd, 2010, to discuss prescription drug abuse.