Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Conway Hosts Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Program in Hard-hit Boyd County

Press Release Date:  Thursday, March 24, 2011  
Contact Information:  Shelley Catharine Johnson
Deputy Communications Director
502-696-5659 (office)
 


Attorney General Jack Conway and his Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners spoke to hundreds of students in Boyd County today about the devastating consequences of prescription drug abuse. Approximately 700 students attended the prevention and awareness program at Boyd County Middle School with Attorney General Conway, Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy Executive Director Van Ingram and concerned parents. General Conway brought his prescription drug abuse prevention initiative to Boyd County as the community struggles to combat an alarming increase in prescription drug overdose deaths.

“Accidental overdose deaths in Boyd County have quadrupled since 2008,” said General Conway. “I want Kentucky kids to know that taking pills that are not prescribed to them can kill them.  Kentuckians, young and old, are dying every day from illegal prescription drugs. This problem is shattering families in Boyd County and across the Commonwealth.”

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.  Boyd County Sheriff Terry Keelin blames the increase in overdose deaths on Florida’s illegal pill mills.

“Florida’s unmonitored pain clinics are fueling drug traffickers and creating more addicts,” Keelin said. “Kentucky is flooded with illegal pills from Florida and until the state cracks-down on these pill mills, Kentucky’s prescription drug overdose deaths will continue to soar.”

Today’s program in Boyd County is part of 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, Lynn Kissick and Dr. Karen Shay. The partners have already held prescription drug abuse prevention programs in middle and high schools in Northern Kentucky, Lexington and Frankfort.

“I appreciate all that General Conway is doing to help fight prescription drug abuse in Kentucky,” said Mike Donta, a Boyd County resident whose 24-year-old son, Michael, died in 2010 after battling prescription drug abuse. “The loss of my son has devastated my family. Sadly, there are countless more families in Kentucky who have endured the same pain and suffering we have because of prescription pill abuse.”

With easy access to prescription medications, kids today are becoming drug addicts in their own homes. 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.  The next “take-back” initiative is on April 30, 2011.

General Conway next visits Bell County High School on April 19, 2011. Prevention programs are also planned in Davies County, Warren County, Floyd and Christian County counties this spring.

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 has since participated in the largest prescription drug round-up in Kentucky’s history.

Just last month, 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.

For more information on General Conway’s efforts to combat prescription drug abuse, please visit http://ag.ky.gov/rxabuse