On January 4th, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear delivered his State of the Commonwealth address where he outlined his legislative priorities for the next year. One of those priorities includes taking on prescription drug abuse. According to the Governor, more Kentuckians die from prescription drug overdoses than from car accidents. He also cited a poll that found that 32 percent of Kentuckians have a family member or friend who has suffered because of prescription drug abuse.
To address this challenge, Governor Beshear is partnering with Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway and Speaker of the Kentucky House Gregory D. "Greg" Stumbo to call upon their legislature to strengthen Kentucky’s current prescription drug monitoring system. Last year, the Governor also created an interstate task force with the Governors of Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia to find solutions to address the growing prescription drug problem in the region.
We look forward to working with Kentucky to address this serious challenge. That is why last year Director Kerlikowske accompanied various Members of Congress and interested congressional staff during visits to Louisville, Lexington, London, and Pikeville to share the latest information on the prescription drug abuse epidemic with officials from the public and private sectors and offer Federal assistance in combating the problem.
There is no single solution to tackle this epidemic. It takes a balanced and comprehensive approach at each level of government. The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a shining example of what can be accomplished when state and local leaders unite to address the issue of drug abuse in their communities.
Tony Martinez is Associate Director for Intergovernmental and Public Liaison