Bono Mack, Delahunt, Rogers Raise Awareness At The Prescription Drug Abuse Caucus Forum
Today, Representatives Mary Bono Mack (CA-45), Bill Delahunt (MA-10) and Hal Rogers (KY-05) spoke at the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse's Forum. The goal of the forum was to shed light on the country's fastest growing drug problem and develop innovative and effective policy solutions to reduce abuse.
"We know the frightening statistics and many of us are all too familiar with the rapidly growing, destructive problem of prescription drug abuse affecting individuals, families and especially our youth. An all-hands-on-deck approach is needed to win this battle-- prevention, treatment, research, and law enforcement are all important components in addressing the issue," stated Bono Mack. "Today's forum shows the tremendous support our efforts have in fighting against drug abuse and has shown our fight is gaining ground. I am very appreciative of our expert panelists and look forward to our continued efforts in raising awareness on the very serious dangers of prescription drug addiction."
"Prescription drug abuse in the United States is a national crisis that impacts our communities and our economy with the potential to create a lost generation of Americans," said Delahunt. "We are losing more of our citizens to the abuse of prescription drugs than we are in the wars we've fought. Today's forum is an opportunity to hear from key policy makers as part of a sustained effort to address this epidemic."
"For years, I've seen the havoc wrought in Appalachia by the abuse of pain medication, but the misuse of prescription drugs is now the fastest growing drug problem in our entire nation," said Rogers. "Today's forum brought together policy-makers from all levels of government and stake-holders from all walks of life to share ideas on just how we can prevent drug abuse, provide treatment options for the addicted and ensure that the law enforcement community has the tools necessary to stop drug dealers and unscrupulous doctors. While the facts are daunting and we face an uphill battle, it is refreshing to hear from experts in this field who are working every day to win the war against drug abuse. I'm particularly optimistic that the development of an interstate prescription monitoring compact will complement and enhance the prescription monitoring efforts already underway in 34 states to keep these otherwise life-saving drugs from being abused."
This forum comes on the heels of news from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that the number of hospital admissions for prescription drug abuse increased by 400% in the last decade and the nonmedical use of prescription drugs increased by 12% in just one year from 2008-2009. The forum consisted of two panels--one summarizing prescription drug abuse today, followed by a panel on the value of prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) and the recently developed interstate compact on PDMP data sharing.
Panel One examined recent trends in prescription drug abuse throughout the nation, focusing on federal initiatives and research tailored specifically to prescription drug issues. Prescription drug abuse transcends state lines and socio-economic groups and, among young people, prescription drugs are being abused more than cocaine, heroin and meth combined. Panelists included Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP); Regina LaBelle, Senior Policy Advisor to Director Kerlikowske; Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and Joseph Rannazzisi, Deputy Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Panel Two highlighted the importance of PDMPs and the recent development of the interstate compact which will further reduce interstate "doctor shopping" by facilitating the exchange of PDMP data across state lines. PDMPs track vital prescription data so that doctors and pharmacists know when a prescription is being abused and investigators can root out unscrupulous doctors who are aiding drug dealers and addicts. Panelists included The Honorable Steven A. Tolman, Massachusetts State Senator; David Hopkins, Vice President of the Alliance of States with Prescription Monitoring Programs; Crady deGolian and Rick Masters, Council of State Governments (CSG); Mike Barnes, Center for Lawful Access and Abuse Deterrence (CLAAD) and John Eadie, Executive Director of the Brandeis University's Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) Center of Excellence.
Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack and Congressman Hal Rogers 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.