By CHAD ABSHIRE
Continuing his crusade against prescription drug abuse, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) will join Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske and U.S. Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) at a press conference April 11, to discuss the significant impact of prescription drug abuse in the nation.
Rahall will deliver the keynote remarks at the National Rx Drug Abuse Summit, hosted by Operation UNITE and the Appalachian Regional Commission, on April 12, in Orlando, Fla.
“The summit brings to focus a national conversation on what is fast becoming America’s newest threat, as evidenced by the recent news of the explosion of pain killer drug sales in Nation,” Rahall said. “If the death toll from prescription drug abuse had instead been at the hands of some foreign enemy, our nation would have declared war long ago.”
Rahall, who has often referred to prescription drug abuse as a “scourge” against the local communities in West Virginia, will also participate in a Congressional Forum with Rogers, Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) and Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), on actions in Congress and legislative efforts to address the growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse. Those attending are all members of the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse.
“The Congress and the administration need to fully engage in this discussion. We are dealing with fifty states operating in privacy law vacuums,” Rahall said. “We need to bridge the individual state privacy law differences to stop across the border pill shopping yet at the same time balance that with the general public’s right to privacy. A multi-state or national network of shared information for law enforcement is an important foundation that must be laid.”
According to a press release from Rahall’s office, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have classified prescription drug abuse as an epidemic and national data shows that by 2009, drug-induced deaths had become the number one cause of injury death in America, with the 39,147 drug-induced deaths exceeding the number of deaths from motor vehicle crashes (36,216).
Additionally, the overall drug overdose death rate in the United States roughly tripled between 1991 and 2011, and in 2007 about 100 people in this country died per day from drug overdoses.
“Education and monitoring naturally lead prevention and enforcement,” Rahall said. “Sen. (Jay) Rockefeller’s, and my legislation, addresses these pillars in our nation’s defense in this vexing epidemic. I am pleased our neighbor, Congressman Rogers, representing eastern Kentucky, and my other colleagues, have joined me in a bipartisan effort to set before Congress the drug abuse plight of so many regions of the Nation.
“As we bring ideas and resources to the table, together we can work toward a comprehensive strategy to combat the drug abuse scourge.”