Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Conway Brings Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Program to Schools in Jessamine and Clark Counties

Press Release Date:  Thursday, March 21, 2013  
Contact Information:  Shelley Catharine Johnson
Deputy Communications Director
502-696-5659 (office)

Attorney General Jack Conway and his Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners today alerted students in Jessamine and Clark counties to the dangers of abusing prescription drugs. The programs come amid clear signs that Kentucky is making progress in its fight against the epidemic of prescription drug abuse.

"The non-medical use of prescription pain relievers among all age groups in Kentucky is down and for the first time, we are below the national average for prescription drug abuse, according to the latest report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration," General Conway said. "Our progress is encouraging, but we must remain vigilant so that we don't lose another generation to pain pill addiction."

General Conway reminded students at George Rogers Clark High School in Winchester, Ky. and West Jessamine High School in Nicholasville, Ky. that they are risking their lives and futures if they take a medication that is not prescribed to them by their doctor.

"These are some of the most addictive substances on the planet," General Conway said. "If taken in the wrong combination, or with other substances, they can kill you."

Kentucky has the sixth highest overdose rate in the country. With more than 1,000 prescription drug overdose deaths each year, more people in the Commonwealth are dying from overdoses than traffic accidents.

General Conway launched the Keep Kentucky Kids Safe initiative in 2010 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 concerned parents like Dr. Karen Shay, a Morehead dentist whose daughter, Sarah, died of a prescription drug overdose in 2006.

"The grief that prescription drug abuse has caused my family is unimaginable," Shay said. "There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about Sarah. By sharing her story with others, I hope I can prevent this heartache for other families."

Since 2010, General Conway and his Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners have alerted nearly 20,000 students in more than two dozen Kentucky counties to the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

"The Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program partners are providing a valuable service to the children and families of the Commonwealth by raising awareness about the dangers of prescription drug abuse," said Lu S. Young, Jessamine Schools Superintendent. "The health and safety of our students is a top priority for our district and we are appreciative that Attorney General Conway is bringing this important message to Jessamine County."

Keep Kentucky Kids Safe PSA Contest

Students are also encouraged to create their own video public service announcement (PSA) about the perils of abusing prescription drugs as part of the annual Keep Kentucky Kids Safe PSA contest. During today's program, General Conway recognized members of Clark County High School's ASAP Youth Network for taking top honors in the 2012 PSA contest and for helping raise awareness about prescription drug abuse in the Commonwealth and the importance of monitoring and securing prescription medications in the home.

"The Clark County Public Schools (CCPS) and the Clark County community are very proud of our young people for their work of increasing the awareness of prescription drug abuse and the effects on our community," said Dr. Elaine Farris, Superintendent CCPS.

Faces of Prescription Drug Abuse

Attorney General Conway also invites Kentuckians, of all ages, to share their stories of how prescription drug addiction has affected their families and communities through his "Faces of Prescription Drug Abuse" video series. Videos may be submitted as part of a "video response" to any Faces of Prescription Drug Abuse clips available on the Attorney General's website at .

Prescription Drug Diversion Efforts

In addition to his awareness efforts, Attorney General Conway launched Kentucky's first and only statewide Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force in August of 2009. The task force has been involved in more than 430 prescription drug diversion investigations, including Operation Flamingo Road, the state's largest prescription drug bust that resulted in the arrests of more than 500 people.

General Conway worked closely with Gov. Steve Beshear, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, Senate President Robert Stivers and other lawmakers to win passage of landmark legislation in 2012 to prevent the abuse and diversion of prescription pills in the Commonwealth. Since its passage, nearly half of Kentucky's pain clinics have shut their doors and prescriptions for the most abused and diverted drugs, like Oxycodone, hydrocodone and Opana, are down, in some cases nearly 50 percent.

Attorney General Conway's office has also filed suit against Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin for misrepresenting the addictive nature of the drug. A federal appeals court ruling has cleared the way for the case to be heard in Pike Circuit Court.

In addition to the work being done here in the Commonwealth, General Conway reached across party lines to work with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to ensure that her state implemented an electronic prescription drug monitoring system similar to Kentucky's KASPER system. Together they have worked to shut down the pill pipeline between Florida and Kentucky and to see that all 50 states have prescription drug monitoring programs in place and that all of the programs can share data across state lines.

Attorney General Conway currently serves as co-chair of the Substance Abuse Committee of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG).