Senator Jay Rockefeller announced that he has asked the Drug Enforcement Administration to provide a permanent prescription drug disposal plan as part of his larger effort to curb prescription drug abuse across West Virginia.
The letter grows out of the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010, which said that the government must come up with safe and lawful disposal methods for certain medications.
"Much more must be done to get commonly-abused prescription drugs out of family medicine cabinets, which is exactly the place many young people in West Virginia report going to find drugs to abuse," said Rockefeller, in a letter to DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart. "In West Virginia, there are a growing number of local efforts to provide for secure drug take-back boxes in communities around the state. Guidance from your agency regarding the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act would not only complement these ongoing efforts, but it would also provide a framework for even more communities in West Virginia and throughout the country to safely dispose of dangerous controlled substance medications."
In the letter, Rockefeller also thanked the DEA for its efforts so far, especially the most recent National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on September 29, 2012.
In the last decade, West Virginia has experienced a tragic increase in deaths and overdoses from prescription drugs. Nine out of ten of the drug-related deaths in West Virginia are due to the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs, especially opioid painkillers. Rockefeller has been working in Congress for several years to raise awareness for the need to fight prescription drug abuse:
Added four Northern Panhandle counties (Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, and Marshall) to the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program in August 2012. Rockefeller pushed for the Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske to designate these counties as HIDTA counties, which qualifies them for additional federal funding to fight prescription drug abuse and trafficking. He also won an additional $39 million above the budgeted level for HIDTA.
Secured additional federal funds to help prevent prescription drug abuse. In addition to his support for the HIDTA program, Rockefeller has consistently supported funding for important law enforcement programs, such as Drug Courts, Byrne JAG grants, the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, and others. The Recovery Act alone provided $4 billion nationwide and $25 million for West Virginia to hire police officers, fight crime and drug abuse, and provide services for at-risk youth.
Introduced the Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act to prevent the unsafe use of prescription drugs and reduce deaths. The Rockefeller bill would promote both physician and patient education, and create a uniform reporting system for painkiller-related deaths. The bill would also significantly increase federal funding to help states create and maintain prescription drug monitoring programs that will stop "doctor shopping" and drug trafficking across state lines.
Secured a provision in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) bill in July 2012 to improve patient and provider education on drug abuse. The provision, which was included as part of legislation to fund the FDA, requires a study on the best ways to develop and disseminate provider, pharmacist, and patient education tools on prescription drug abuse.
Co-led a letter to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education with five other Senators, asking the Subcommittee to reinstate funding for the National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting (NASPER) program in Fiscal Year 2013.
Invited the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to hold a Continuing Medical Education course for West Virginia health care professionals. This course, Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain: Balancing Safety and Efficacy, was held at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine on Friday, September 28, 2012 and offered 6.25 hours of continuing education credits.
Held a Senate hearing on March 22 on "Prescription Drug Abuse: How are Medicare and Medicaid Adapting to the Challenge?" Rockefeller discussed the role of Medicare and Medicaid in preventing and treating the overprescribing, misuse of, and addiction to prescription drugs.
Held a roundtable in 2011 with the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, state and local leaders, health providers, and law enforcement officials in Huntington. Rockefeller discussed how prescription drug abuse affects families and children in West Virginia.