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Administration Releases National Prescription Drug Abuse Action Plan

Prescription drug abuse is our nation’s fastest-growing drug problem. The number of people who unintentionally overdosed on prescription drugs now exceeds the number who overdosed during the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980’s and the black tar heroin epidemic of the 1970’s combined. |Prescription drug abuse is our nation’s fastest-growing drug problem. The number of people who unintentionally overdosed on prescription drugs now exceeds the number who overdosed during the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980’s and the black tar heroin epidemic of the 1970’s combined. In 2007, approximately 28,000 people died from unintentional drug overdoses, driven mostly by prescription drugs.

On April 19, Gil Kerlikowske, White House Director of National Drug Control Policy; DEA Administrator, Michele M. Leonhart; Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Services, Howard Koh, M.D.; and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner, Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. released Epidemic: Responding to America’s Prescription Drug Abuse Crisis, the Obama Administration’s comprehensive action plan to address the national prescription drug abuse epidemic. This plan provides a national framework for reducing prescription drug diversion and abuse by: supporting the expansion of state-based prescription drug monitoring programs; recommending more convenient and environmentally responsible disposal methods to remove unused medications from the home; supporting education for patients and healthcare providers (including new federal requirements aimed at educating the medical community about proper pain management); and reducing the prevalence of pill mills and doctor shopping through enforcement efforts.

“DEA is committed to implementing this important and much needed action plan to reduce the demand for prescription drugs, enforce our nation’s drug laws, and take back unneeded prescription drugs,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “When abused, prescription drugs are just as dangerous and just as addictive as drugs like methamphetamine or heroin. The more we can do to stop the abuse of prescription drugs, the more effective we will be in reducing the death, destruction and despair that accompanies all drug abuse.”

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