Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Conway Brings his Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Program to Louisville
Attorney General Jack Conway and his Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners spoke to middle school students in Louisville today about the devastating consequences of prescription drug abuse. More than 600 students, local law enforcement and community leaders attended the prevention and awareness program at Barret Traditional Middle School.
"Taking pills that are not prescribed to you by a doctor can jeopardize your future and can take your life," General Conway said. "These are some of the most addictive substances on the planet. They will steal your appetite, your mind and if taken in the wrong combination and with other substances, they will kill you."
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. Officials with Metro Louisville Police report a dramatic increase in the trafficking and abuse of prescription pills in the city.
"Louisville is no different than the rest of the state," said Sgt. John McGuire with the Louisville Metro Police Department's Prescription Drug Diversion Unit. "Investigations into illicit prescription pills are up more than 300 percent since 2009. As a result, we're seeing an increase in drug-related crimes, medical and prescription drug fraud and accidental overdose deaths."
In Kentucky, prescription drug overdoses have doubled over the past decade and now surpass traffic accidents as the leading cause of accidental death.
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 Dr. Karen Shay and Lynn Kissick, two mothers who lost their daughters to prescription drug overdoses.
Attorney General Conway was joined in Louisville today by Van Ingram, Executive Director of Kentucky's Office of Drug Control Policy and Dr. Karen Shay, a concerned parent from Morehead, Ky. who lost her daughter, Sarah, in 2006 after a long battle with prescription drug abuse.
"Every day, we are losing more and more good kids, like Sarah, to prescription drug overdoses," said Dr. Shay, a dentist in Morehead. "I appreciate all that General Conway is doing to help me raise awareness about this devastating problem. No family deserves this type of heartache."
Since launching the program a year ago, Attorney General Conway and his Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners have alerted nearly 7,000 middle and high school students across Kentucky to the dangers of abusing prescription pills.
"Prescription pill abuse isn't happening on street corners or in back alleys," said Ingram. "It's starting at home in the medicine cabinet. Parents need to remember to monitor and secure their prescriptions and safely dispose of any medications that are no longer needed."
General Conway encourages Kentuckians to participate in the DEA's National Take-Back Day on Saturday, Oct. 29 from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. Prescription pill drop-off sites will be located across Kentucky, including the Attorney General's Prestonsburg office. In Louisville, Metro Louisville Police will collect unused medications at Target stores on Westport Road, Mall Road and Dixie Highway. Other collection sites include the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office in the Fiscal Court Building and Hurstbourne Acres Police on South Hurstbourne Parkway.
General Conway also recently launched a statewide public service announcement (PSA) contest for high school students. As part of the competition, students produce a 30-second video that shows the perils of prescription drug abuse. The first place winner will receive an Apple iPad generously donated by NADDI. The runner-up will receive a $100 Amazon.com gift card donated by the Kentucky Pharmacists Association.
The deadline for submitting a video is Dec. 2, 2011. Winners will be announced on Dec. 14, 2011. Students may submit a PSA for consideration by visiting the Attorney General's Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Page at http://ag.ky.gov/rxabuse
Prescription Drug Diversion Efforts
In addition to his education and 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 130 prescription drug diversion investigations, including Operation Flamingo Road, the state's largest prescription drug bust that resulted in the arrest of more than 500 people.
Recently, Attorney General Conway joined with Gov. Steve Beshear and House Speaker Greg Stumbo to announce new initiatives to combat the epidemic of prescription drug abuse in Kentucky. The multi-pronged effort includes legislative action to better track prescription drugs and to stop the illegal diversion of pills, licensing and regulation of pain clinics in Kentucky and expanded use of the state's prescription drug monitoring system, KASPER.
In addition to the work being done here in the Commonwealth, Attorney General Conway reached across party lines to work closely with Florida's Attorney General Pam Bondi to ensure that her state implemented an electronic prescription drug monitoring system similar to Kentucky's KASPER system.
The Attorney General's office is also a member of the newly created Interstate Prescription Drug Task Force that is working with neighboring states, like Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia, to shut down the prescription drug pipeline into Kentucky.