Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Conway Hosts Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Program In Bowling Green

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, May 11, 2011  
Contact Information:  Shelley Catharine Johnson
Deputy Communications Director
502-696-5659 (office)
 


Attorney General Jack Conway spoke to hundreds of students at Bowling Green Jr. High School today about the devastating consequences of prescription drug abuse. Approximately 600 7th and 8th graders attended the prevention and awareness program hosted by General Conway and his Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners.

“School officials and law enforcement in communities across Kentucky tell me prescription drug abuse is the biggest problem our schools and students face today,” said General Conway. “That is why I’m travelling across the state to let students know that the few minutes of fun they get from taking illegal prescription pills can lead to death and a lifetime of heartache for their families.”

Non-medical use or abuse of prescription drugs is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States, according to Office of National Drug Control Policy. In Kentucky, prescription drug overdose deaths have more than doubled from 403 in 2000 to nearly 980 in 2009. Today, there are more overdose deaths in the Commonwealth than traffic fatalities.

“The epidemic of prescription drug abuse is endangering the future of our Commonwealth,” said Chris Cohron, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the 8th Judicial Circuit representing Warren County. “The efforts of law enforcement and our communities must work together to stem the wave of destruction it is causing.”

According to a 2008 Kentucky Incentives for Prevention (KIP) Survey, the fastest area of prescription drug use among high school sophomores was in communities in Western Kentucky.

Today’s program is part of a statewide initiative General Conway launched last fall with the Kentucky Justice Cabinet and its Office of Drug Control Policy, Kentucky Pharmacists Association, National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI), Operation UNITE and mothers who lost their daughters to prescription drug overdoses, Dr. Karen Shay and Lynn Kissick.

“Prescription drug addiction has devastated my family and is devastating families across Kentucky,” said Shay, whose daughter Sarah died from a prescription drug overdose in 2006. “It is hard enough to lose a child, but to lose a child to prescription drugs is something I will never recover from. That pain will never go away.”

Shay, a dentist in Morehead, is one of several parents who participate in General Conway’s Keep Kentucky Kids Safe initiative. To date, General Conway and his partners have spoken to thousands of students in Frankfort, Lexington, Ft. Thomas, Ashland, Pineville, Prestonsburg, Hopkinsville, Madisonville and Owensboro.

With easy access to prescription medications, General Conway and his partners are urging parents to monitor and secure prescription pills in their homes and safely dispose of old or unneeded pills by utilizing pill collection sites and participating in national prescription drug “take-back” days. More than 3,800 prescription pills were collected in Kentucky as part of last month’s 2nd annual prescription drug “Take Back” day.

General Conway’s Drug Diversion Efforts

Despite budget cuts of roughly 30%, General Conway has increased investigations into illegal prescription drug diversion, doctor shopping, overprescribing physicians and illegal out-of-state pharmacies through creation of Kentucky’s only statewide Prescription Drug Diversion Task Force. Launched in 2009 with a $50,000 grant from NADDI, the task force worked closely with Operation UNITE and other agencies in the largest prescription drug round-up in Kentucky’s history.

In February 2011, General Conway’s Drug Diversion Task Force executed search warrants at two pain clinics and two residences in Johnson County as part of a year-long investigation into overprescribing physicians.

General Conway also recently worked with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to ensure that Gov. Rick Scott implemented an electronic prescription drug monitoring system, similar to Kentucky’s KASPER system, to help cut down on overprescribing physicians and people who are doctor shopping. Law enforcement officers estimate that 60 percent of illegal pain pills in Kentucky come from Florida.

“I am hopeful that when Florida’s electronic monitoring system is up and running that it will greatly reduce the flood of pills into our state and help save the lives of Kentuckians,” General Conway said.

For more information about prescription drug abuse and prevention, visit http://ag.ky.gov/rxabuse.