U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell met with Health and Human Services' (HHS) Acting General Counsel, Bill Schultz, on Wednesday, to emphasize the seriousness of the prescription drug crisis in Kentucky. During the meeting, Senator McConnell told HHS' top lawyer that "prescription drug abuse is a significant problem in Kentucky that will be made worse by the imminent availability of these crushable pain pills and I encourage the Administration to take action immediately to avert the looming threat to Kentucky from these frequently-abused, crushable-pain pills."
Early next year, generic versions of the two most commonly-abused painkillers -- Opana and OxyContin -- will flood the markets. Senator McConnell's office has heard concerns from law enforcement, hospitals and health clinics in Kentucky that these generic crushable drugs lack the tamper-resistant gel coating of the brand name drugs. Without this technology, addicts crush the pills in order to achieve an immediate heroine-like high from sniffing or injecting the painkillers. If these generics come to market without the tamper resistant coating, much of the work that law enforcement and health care providers have done to stem the tide of pain pill abuse in Kentucky will be lost.
In addition to today's meeting, Senator McConnell also recently contacted the FDA Commissioner to ask that the agency delay these crushable generic drugs coming to market until a workable solution can be found.