Senator Jay Rockefeller today said it will take a broad coalition of stakeholders including educators, law enforcement officials, parents, health professionals and community members to educate students about the dangers of drug addiction and curb prescription drug abuse among West Virginia's students.
Rockefeller's remarks came during a roundtable discussion he held today at Wheeling Park High School. The panel focused on four areas: gateways to addiction for students; where addiction leads; how it is treated; and how it can be prevented in the first
"Prescription drug abuse is a terrible public health crisis facing West Virginia, and students are particularly susceptible," Rockefeller said. "This is not an easy problem to solve; there are no simple answers. That is why it is so important to bring all of the stakeholders together. We are here to learn from each other, share resources and ideas, and take action. Our children's future is at stake."
Today's roundtable comes as Rockefeller prepares new efforts to curb addiction, a plan that includes creating new tools for drug prescribers; education initiatives; reducing
overdose deaths; developing safer drugs; establishing effective treatment options for families and drug-addicted newborns; and promoting specialized drug courts that focus on recovery and treatment.
Rockefeller's meeting is part of a series of events and programs taking place this month aimed at fighting prescription drug abuse. They include the West Virginia Drug
Endangered Children's Conference on September 19 through 20 and a Drug Take
Back Day on September 29. On September 28, Rockefeller is facilitating federal
training by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration on
opioid safety at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in Lewisburg.
Rockefeller also sponsored a Senate resolution naming October as "National
Medicine Abuse Awareness Month."
"It is clear to me that we need a comprehensive approach to prescription drug abuse, and I'm committed to bringing to bear as many resources as possible to fight this epidemic," Rockefeller said.
In the last decade, West Virginia has experienced a tragic increase in deaths and overdoses from prescription drugs. Nine out of 10 of the drug-related deaths in West
Virginia are because of 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 and has acted on the following fronts:
Designated October as National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month. Rockefeller has consistently been an original cosponsor of a Senate resolution designating October as "National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month" to draw attention to and educate the public about problems associated with drug abuse and misuse of prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Rockefeller will roll out several additional initiatives to combat prescription drug addiction next month.
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.
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, will be held at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine on Friday, September 28, 2012, is open to all prescribers, and offers 6.25 hours of continuing education credits.
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.
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.
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.
Introduced a bill 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 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.
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.