Attorney General Jack Conway is urging Kentuckians to take part in a prescription drug "Take-Back" day on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time to help prevent increased prescription drug abuse and theft.
This marks the seventh nationwide prescription drug "Take-Back" day with collection sites in local communities across the country. More than 70 prescription drug collection sites have been designated across the Commonwealth as part of this initiative.
The Office of the Attorney General will be hosting a "Take-Back" event at its office in Prestonsburg located at 361 North Lake Drive. Residents throughout the state may search for a site near their communities by visiting the DEA website at http://goo.gl/pP8TmE .
Today, there are more overdose deaths in the Commonwealth than traffic fatalities. A report released this month by Trust for America's Health underlines the prescription drug abuse epidemic with a staggering statistic: Kentucky has the third-highest rate of fatal overdoses – the vast majority from prescription pills – in the United States. However, the report also recognizes Kentucky for its prescription drug abuse prevention efforts. The state achieved a score of nine, on a scale of zero to 10, for its strategies to help curb the epidemic.
"We have taken action to pass comprehensive legislation to shut down pill mills and require doctors to check KASPER reports," General Conway said. "In the Attorney General's Office, we launched an education campaign for Kentucky middle and high school students to educate them about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. To date, we've presented our message to more than 25,000 students, teachers and parents. We know our efforts are working and helping save lives."
In fact, a new survey has found that the percentage of Kentucky teens misusing prescription drugs has dropped dramatically over the past four years. According to the 2012 Kentucky Incentives for Prevention School Survey, the use of prescription drugs among students without a doctor's order has decreased steadily among sixth-, eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders since 2004. The declines have been the most significant since 2008, when the Attorney General's Office, along with state lawmakers and other agencies across the Commonwealth, began intensifying efforts to fight prescription drug abuse.
Additionally, the latest report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows a decline in the non-medical use of prescription pain relievers among all age groups in the Commonwealth. Kentucky is also below the national average for prescription drug abuse, for the first time.
The "Take-Back" initiative is a collaborative effort between local, state and federal law enforcement and government agencies to prevent increased prescription drug abuse and theft by collecting potentially dangerous expired, unused or unwanted medications for destruction. The service is free and anonymous.
PRESCRIPTION DRUG DIVERSION EFFORTS
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 arrest of more than 500 people.
In 2010, General Conway launched the Keep Kentucky Kids Safe initiative 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. Since its launch, Attorney General Conway and his partners have alerted more than 25,000 students, teachers and parents about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
General Conway also worked closely with Governor Beshear, House Speaker Stumbo, Senate President 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 passage of HB 1, overdose deaths in Kentucky declined for the first time in a decade, and half of the state's pain management clinics have closed their doors.
In addition to the work being done here in the Commonwealth, Attorney General Conway reached across party lines to work with Attorney General Pam Bondi in Florida 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.