Attorney General Jack Conway is urging Kentuckians to participate in a prescription drug “Take-Back” day on Saturday, April 26, 2014, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time by safely disposing of any unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs.
This marks the eighth nationwide “Take-Back” day with prescription drug collection sites in local communities across the country. More than 70 collection sites have been designated in Kentucky as part of the initiative, which is designed to help prevent an increase in prescription drug abuse and theft.
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 U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) website athttp://tinyurl.com/46jpask.
Nationally, prescription painkillers are the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, and one in three Kentuckians has a friend or family member who has experienced problems as a result of abusing prescription pain relievers, according to the 2012 Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP). Additionally, a report by the nonprofit Trust for America’s Health lists Kentucky as having the third-highest rate of fatal overdoses in the country – the vast majority from prescription pills.
“Through this initiative, our efforts, in combination with the great work of the DEA and local law enforcement agencies, have resulted in the collection and proper disposal of thousands of pounds of unneeded prescription drugs that would otherwise pose a threat to Kentucky families,” Attorney General Conway said. “These take-back events serve a critical role in making our communities safer by keeping potentially addictive and deadly prescription medications out of the wrong hands.”
During a national “Take-Back” day in October 2013, 647,211 pounds of expired and unwanted prescription medications were turned in at 5,683 collection sites across the United States, according to the DEA. Kentuckians turned in 9,171 pounds of prescription drugs at 77 collection locations across the state during last year’s event.
Kentucky continues to make progress in its fight against the epidemic of prescription drug abuse. According to the 2012 Kentucky Incentives for Prevention School Survey, the percentage of Kentucky teens misusing prescription drugs has dropped dramatically over the past four years.
Additionally, the latest report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows the non-medical use of prescription pain relievers among all age groups in Kentucky is down, and the state is below the national average for prescription drug abuse.
The “Take-Back” initiative is a collaborative effort between local, state, and federal law enforcement and government agencies. The service is free and anonymous.
Prescription Drug Diversion 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 450 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.
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 more than half of the state’s pain management clinics have closed their doors.
In January 2014, General Conway announced that more than $32 million recovered in settlements with two pharmaceutical companies is being used throughout Kentucky to expand substance abuse treatment, including opiate addictions. The settlement funds will create a new treatment center for adults, treatment scholarships, a grant program for new juvenile treatment beds and/or centers, and expanded services for juveniles.
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.
Keep Kentucky Kids Safe
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 warned approximately 40,000 students, parents, and teachers about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
As part of the Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program, students are encouraged to participate in an annual statewide video PSA contest created to raise awareness about the risks of prescription drug abuse.