Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell today announced the Commonwealth's selection by the National Governors Association (NGA) to receive a year-long $45,000 competitive grant to participate in an NGA sponsored Prescription Drug Abuse Reduction Policy Academy. The grant comes at a time when prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States, especially among teens ages 12 to 17, the most serious problem after marijuana abuse. Other states selected for the important policy development effort are Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, New Mexico and Oregon.
"I am pleased with this selection because one of the key goals of my Administration is to make the Commonwealth safer for all Virginians. The Prescription Drug Abuse Reduction Policy Academy will enable a wide array of interested individuals and organizations to engage in a collaborative planning effort to address this serious problem head on," said Gov. McDonnell. "Virginia is working hard at both the state and local level and we are primed to take the next step to coordinate a comprehensive strategy that will guide our efforts to reduce prescription drug abuse throughout the Commonwealth."
Senior state officials on the front lines against prescription drug abuse have been tapped to lead Virginia's participation in the Police Academy. Governor McDonnell has named the Director of the Department of Health Professions, Dianne L. Reynolds-Cane, M.D., to lead a team consisting of Secretary of Health and Human Resources William Hazel, M.D., Secretary of Public Safety Marla Decker, Virginia State Police Superintendent Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, and Commissioner of Behavioral Health and Development Services James W. Stewart, III. Other members of state and local agencies and community groups involved in combating prescription drug abuse are anticipated to join the working group as it gets underway.
The goal of the NGA Prescription Drug Abuse Reduction Policy Academy is to reduce prescription drug abuse by helping states develop and implement comprehensive and coordinated strategies to take advantage of all available tools and resources. This work will include planning for full deployment of Prescription Monitoring Programs, e-tools to ensure safe online pharmacies, development and implementation of educational resources, energizing community organizations, and encouraging the use of safe disposal of prescriptions and take back programs.
The Policy Academy will be conducted from September 2012 to 2013 and include NGA Center for Best Practices sponsored meetings involving representatives from all the selected states. It will also include in-state workshops with technical assistance from NGA Center staff, opportunities for interstate and intrastate networking opportunities, and other policy academy related activities.