White House announces plans to reduce prescription drug abuse

WASHINGTON Wed Apr 20, 2011 12:27pm EDT

A pharmacist counts pills in a pharmacy in this January 31, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/Files

A pharmacist counts pills in a pharmacy in this January 31, 2008 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Mark Blinch/Files

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's administration unveiled on Tuesday a plan to fight what it calls a prescription drug abuse epidemic.

Between 2002 and 2009, the number of Americans aged 12 and older abusing pain relievers increased by 20 percent, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

"Unintentional drug overdose is a growing epidemic in the U.S. and is now the leading cause of injury death in 17 states," Center for Disease Control Director Dr. Thomas Frieden was quoted as saying in a statement from the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The Obama administration's plan entails a government-wide public health approach to reduce drug abuse and asks an additional $123 million for drug prevention and an additional $99 million for treatment programs in the 2012 fiscal year, according to the statement.

"Today we are making an unprecedented commitment to combat the growing problem of prescription drug abuse," the statement quoted Vice President Joe Biden as saying.

"This plan will save lives, and it will substantially lessen the burden this epidemic takes on our families, communities, and workforce," he said.

The plan focuses on requiring drug makers to educate the medical community about the safe use of prescription drugs, beefing up prescription drug monitoring programs, recommending responsible disposal methods for unused medications, and reducing the prevalence of pill mills and doctor shopping through enforcement efforts.

The plan aims for a 15 percent reduction over five years in nonmedical use of prescription-type psychotherapeutic drugs among people 12 and older, and a similar decrease in the number of unintentional overdose deaths.

As a part of the plan, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered painkiller makers to provide educational materials to help train physicians about the correct use of the drugs.

The federal regulator has sent letters to drugmakers manufacturing opioids asking them to prepare materials that physicians or prescribers can use while counseling patients about the risks and benefits of opioid use.

An outside expert on drug problems told Reuters in a telephone interview that two key demographic elements were among his and his group's concerns in fighting prescription drug abuse.

John Challis, vice president of treatment for Daytop Village, a family-oriented drug treatment facility in New York City, said one was the rising number of young people who are taking opioids and may seek different, harder drugs after their supply of prescription drugs dries up, he said.

Another, Chalis said, is that the aging members of the baby boomer generation increasingly are becoming dependent on hard pain relievers.

Clear data on prescription drug abuse is difficult to provide, he said, because by the time many people get treatment, their prescription drug problem is compounded with other substance abuse problems.

(Editing by Jerry Norton)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (7)
dbeall wrote:
Legalize Marijuana would be a good start on this plan.

Prohibition doesn’t work, but the smart people learned this way back in the 1920’s.

Regulation works, not prohibition.

America runs on Chemically created Drugs or Dangerous Pharmaceuticals made by Big Pharma Corporations.
These dangerous drugs are a huge profit center for the US Government. Many of the Politicians rake in millions from these Dangerous Drug Makers to fund their campaigns and numerous other goodies.

These Dangerous-Drugs are prohibited just like harmless Marijuana.
OK KIDS, LISTEN UP, prohibition doesn’t work, but regulations do.

Make all drugs legal and tax them just like asprin.

Apr 20, 2011 1:05pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
mirageinaz wrote:
As someone who does not have health insurance and does not believe in the current insurance system, this needs to be cleaned up before I will participate in the system. Let’s concentrate on wellnes, get rid of most prescribed medicines, and encourage healthy living. Then the cost of insurance can be made realistic to the working middle class who have to pay their own way like the self-employed.

Apr 20, 2011 1:16pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
dbeall wrote:
I should add,,, I do not condone the ‘abuse’ of any dangerous-drug, but some folks are just ‘using’ those drugs, not abusing. There is a clear difference.

If all drugs were legal, taxed and regulated, kids would have a harder time getting them on the black market, because the black market would not exist.

All the money spent on this Politically-Correct sound-or-policy-bite is a huge waste.
All this money and time should be used for education and treatment for those that need or want it.

The Corporate-Industrial-Prison-Complex wants the public to think that putting more people in prison will help America to be drug-free,,, not so. The wall-street prison investors NEED more prisoners to boost the stock price and they don’t care where you get those prisoners, they just want growth and cash.

The Government will spend huge money on the Para-Military-Jack-Hooded-Thugs to break down doors, shoot people, invade homes… for what……

Apr 20, 2011 1:31pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Pictures