Yesterday, New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman unveiled a report regarding the prescription drug abuse crisis in New York and outlined specific actions on how this growing problem needs to be addressed by both health care providers and law enforcement officials. The Attorney General’s efforts reinforce the importance of the work the Obama Administration is undertaking to address prescription drug abuse in America. Last April, ONDCP released the Administration's comprehensive action plan on prescription drug abuse - Epidemic: Responding to America's Prescription Drug Crisis. The plan, which coordinates efforts among Federal agencies, focuses on four key areas: education for healthcare professionals, patients, and the public on safe and appropriate use of prescription drugs; expansion of state-based prescription drug monitoring programs; convenient and environmentally responsible disposal methods to remove unused medications from the home; and smart law enforcement to reduce the prevalence of pill mills and doctor shopping.
Public officials like Attorney General Schneiderman are working across the country to address the prescription drug abuse epidemic within their own state borders while also working with neighboring states to prevent prescription drug diversion by implementing many of the practices called for in the Administration’s Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan. These practices include updating existing prescription drug monitoring programs like those in New York and Tennessee. And in Utah and Massachusetts, state legislatures are establishing mandatory prescriber education laws, which require doctors to undergo training before prescribing powerful painkillers.
Prescription drug abuse and its consequences is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States, and there is no single solution to tackle this epidemic. Everyone has a role to play, and success will require coordination and collaboration at the Federal, state, local, and tribal levels.
Tony Martinez is Associate Director for Intergovernmental and Public Liaison