With prescription drug abuse on the rise, U. S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. acted to continue the only authorized federal program that combats the misuse of controlled substances with the introduction of legislation continuing the National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Act.
"The misuse and abuse of prescription drugs is escalating at an alarming rate with corresponding increases in overdose deaths and addiction," said Pallone. "Many people, especially teenagers, believe prescription drugs are safer than illegal drugs because they are manufactured and prescribed by doctors. With 20,000 deaths each year, that is a potentially lethal misconception."
Over the past 10 years there has been a 300 percent increase in the number of teenagers seeking treatment for addiction to prescription pain killers. More than 15 million people used prescription drugs non-medically during 2008, according to a national survey.
Originally created in 2005, the NASPER law, cosponsored by Pallone, is intended to ensure that prescription drugs are used only for intended purposes with legitimate prescriptions. The program helps states establish and operate drug monitoring programs. The bill would allocate $15 million that will be used, in part, to improve interstate communication to identify the misuse of drugs, including "problem doctors" who give out improper prescriptions.
Pallone, as head of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, held public hearings on NASPER that attracted supportive testimony from the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Department of Justice.