Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General's Statewide Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force Marks 2nd Anniversary

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, August 31, 2011  
Contact Information:  Allison Gardner Martin
Communications Director
502-696-5651 (office)
 


Attorney General Jack Conway's statewide Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force is marking its 2nd anniversary and touting its many accomplishments in combating the scourge of prescription drug abuse in Kentucky. Since its creation in August of 2009, the task force has been involved in more than 130 prescription drug diversion investigations, including a year-long undercover investigation of Dr. Richard Albert in connection with the operation of an alleged "pill mill" in Paintsville, Ky.

The task force also participated in Operation Flamingo Road in October of 2009, Kentucky's largest prescription drug-bust that resulted in felony arrest warrants for more than 500 people.

"I am extremely proud of our many accomplishments over the past two years in the fight against prescription drug abuse," General Conway said. "My task force has done a tremendous job tracking down those who are peddling prescription pills, targeting overprescribing physicians and cutting off the prescription pill pipeline between Kentucky, Florida and other states."

OAG Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force Accomplishments

  • Cases opened: 131
  • Active Cases: 57
  • Arrests: 50 individuals on 194 counts
  • Trainings: 828 law enforcement officers, prosecutors and citizens in and outside of Kentucky
  • Drug Roundups: 14

General Conway utilized a $50,000 grant from the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI) to launch Kentucky's first and only statewide task force dedicated to investigating prescription drug trafficking, overprescribing physicians, doctor shopping and illegal out-of-state pharmacies. The task force has representatives from law enforcement agencies across Kentucky including the Morehead, Manchester, Hazard, Prestonsburg and Owensboro police departments as well as the Menifee, Floyd and Rowan county sheriff's departments.

The Attorney General's Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force is also a member of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Tactical Diversion Squad, created to combat the prescription drug epidemic in Kentucky, and Gov. Steve Beshear's newly formed Interstate Prescription Drug Task Force.

Notable Cases:

  • Dr. Richard Albert — Following a year-long undercover investigation into overprescribing physicians, the Attorney General's Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force executed a search warrant on Feb. 16, 2011 at Dr. Albert's Pain Management Center in Paintsville. A federal grand jury indicted Dr. Albert in July 2011 on one count of conspiracy to distribute drugs without a legitimate medical purpose. It's estimated that Dr. Albert prescribed approximately 105,000 pills a month and averaged 55 patients a day.
  • Operation Flamingo Road — The OAG task force arrested 27 individuals in Powell County during Kentucky's largest prescription drug bust in October 2009. Many of the prescription drugs being trafficked were from other states, particularly Florida.

In addition to the work being done in Kentucky, Attorney General Conway reached across party lines to work closely with Florida's Attorney General Pam Bondi to ensure that Florida implemented an electronic prescription drug monitoring system similar to Kentucky's KASPER system. In April, Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced he would no longer block implementation of the database.

"This is an all-hands on deck issue," General Conway said. "We need to work closely with our law enforcement partners, both in and outside of Kentucky, physicians, school officials and parents to fight one of the biggest problems facing our youth today. If we don't win this battle, we are in jeopardy of losing an entire generation of kids."

Attorney General Conway has also been meeting with members of the medical community to discuss the KAPSER system and to identify ways it can be better utilized by physicians. He is also working closely with attorneys general across the country in an effort to implement prescription drug tracking systems in all 50 states.

Keep Kentucky Kids Safe

Last fall, Attorney General Conway launched a statewide prescription drug abuse prevention and education initiative called Keep Kentucky Kids Safe. In partnership with the Kentucky Justice Cabinet and its Office of Drug Control Policy, Kentucky Pharmacists Association, Operation UNITE, NADDI and concerned moms, Dr. Karen Shay and Lynn Kissick of Morehead, General Conway travels across Kentucky to alert middle and high school students to the dangers of abusing prescription drugs. To date, the Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program has reached nearly 5,000 people in nearly a dozen schools across Kentucky.

For more information on the Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program, please visit http://ag.ky.gov/rxabuse.htm . General Conway also encourages both kids and parents to watch a video produced by his office that tells the story of Savannah Kissick and Sarah Shay and the devastating toll prescription drug abuse has had on their families.