The following post appears courtesy of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky
Kentucky’s U.S. Attorneys Kerry B. Harvey and David J. Hale, in conjunction with the University of Kentucky (UK), hosted Kentucky’s first Prescription Drug Abuse Summit earlier this month. The one-day event was attended by more than 300 health care providers, educators, law enforcement officers, public officials and high school students. The summit focused on increasing collaboration across disciplines to combat prescription drug abuse, one of the Kentucky’s most urgent, destructive and widespread challenges.
During the day-long conference, the audience heard from approximately 30 speakers including the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Wifredo Ferrer. Because south Florida pain clinics have historically been a primary source of illegal prescription narcotics in Kentucky, U.S. Attorney Ferrer was invited to address the conference. U.S. Attorney Ferrer highlighted the recent successes Florida authorities to investigate, prosecute and close rogue pill mills.
A number of faculty members from UK’s Colleges of Medicine, Pharmacy and Dentistry spoke along with Kentucky’s Governor and Attorney General. The event incorporated panel discussions led by experts in law enforcement, health care, mental health and education who shared their experiences with the pernicious effects of prescription narcotic abuse. The three U.S. Attorneys held a private meeting with the approximately 50 high school students from across the state who attended the Summit. These students are involved in their schools’ mass media programs and covered the Summit for their respective school newspapers, yearbooks and television outlets. In addition to warning them of the dangers of prescription drug abuse, U.S. Attorneys Harvey, Hale and Ferrer fielded questions from the students.
Summit attendees heard a first-hand account from a U.S. Military Veteran who battled a severe addiction with prescription drugs. Dustin Gross was a Marine Lance Corporal in the Iraqi War and suffered serious injuries after being hit by a roadside bomb. Thanks to the treatment and counseling he received at the Louisville veterans hospital, Dustin now lives without narcotics, and is an inspiring example to others.
Law enforcement in Kentucky has made prescription pill abuse one of its highest priorities. In 2010 and 2011, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Kentucky prosecuted approximately 120 cases related to prescription pills, more than double the prosecutions involving any other type of drug. In the Western District of Kentucky, the number of defendants charged with prescription narcotics trafficking more than doubled in 2011 over the previous year.
For more information on prescription drug abuse visit the National Institute of Health.