Drug czar offers plan to cut abuse of oxycodone, related drugs

The White House drug czar announced today he wants to cut misuse of oxycodone and other opioid drugs by 15 percent in the next five years, and revealed his strategy for how to make that happen.

Gil Kerlikowske, the national drug policy director, wants to see a national education campaign, stepped-up law enforcement and pill-tracking databases in all 50 states, “with particular emphasis on Florida, where 85 percent of all oxycodone pills in the nation are prescribed,” Curt Anderson of The Associated Press reports. The strategy also calls for more training for the more than 1 million doctors who are authorized to prescribe the drugs, though that move would need to be approved by Congress.
Details of the strategy come just a few months after Kerlikowske, right, visited Kentucky and surrounding states to assess the problem. His visit was preceded by in-depth reports on prescription pill abuse by The Courier-Journal and The Lexington Herald-Leader. Kentucky legislators, including U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers, spoke to Kerlikowske candidly about the problem during his visit and voiced their displeasure about plans to nix a monitoring database in Florida. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has since reversed course and will support the implementation of a drug monitoring problem in his state.
Though a 15 percent cut seems like a small goal, Letcher County Sheriff Danny Web supports the move. “Anything would help, because we’re drowning in it up here in Eastern Kentucky,” he said. Overdose deaths from painkillers have risen from under 4,000 in 2000 to more than 11,000 in 2007, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention numbers show. In Kentucky, more people die from prescription drug overdoses than traffic accidents. Nationally, the total exceeds that for fatal gunshots. (Read more)
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