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Attorney General Conway Takes Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Program to Bourbon County High

Monday, 11 19, 2012

Shelley Catharine Johnson
Deputy Communications Director
502-696-5659 (office)

Attorney General Jack Conway and his Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners warned students at Bourbon County High School today about the devastating consequences of abusing prescription drugs.

"These are some of the most addictive substances on the planet, and when taken in the wrong combination or with other substances, they can kill you," General Conway said. "Prescription drug abuse is a problem that is shattering families in every corner of the Commonwealth and it is preventing Kentucky from being all that it can be."

General Conway was joined today by Van Ingram, Executive Director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, and Mike Donta, an Ashland, Ky. resident whose son lost his battle with prescription drug abuse in 2010.

"The choice my son made to abuse prescription pills cost him his life," said Donta. "His actions have devastated our family. He left behind two children who will grow up wondering why their father is not there. No family should have to endure this heartache."

General Conway launched the Keep Kentucky Kids Safe statewide awareness initiative in 2010 in partnership with the Kentucky Justice Cabinet and its Office of Drug Control Policy, Kentucky Pharmacists Association, National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI), Operation UNITE and two mothers from Morehead, Ky., Dr. Karen Shay and Lynn Kissick who both lost daughters to prescription drug overdoses. Like Donta, Shay and Kissick travel with General Conway as part of Keep Kentucky Kids Safe.

To date, the program has alerted more than 15,000 students across the state to the dangers of abusing prescription pills.

"Our children, who are our future, are being destroyed by prescription drug abuse," said Bourbon County School Superintendent Lana Fryman. "We are blessed to have Attorney General Conway and his Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners to help fight this problem."

Prescription drug abuse is the nation's fastest-growing drug problem.

In 2011, doctors in Kentucky prescribed more than 219 million doses of the hydrocodone, one of the drugs most commonly found in overdose victims. That equates to about 50 doses for every man, woman and child in Kentucky. With more than 1,000 fatal overdoses a year, Kentucky's overdose death rate is the sixth-highest in the nation.

Prescription Drug Diversion Efforts

In addition to his public awareness efforts, Attorney General Conway worked closely with Governor Beshear, House Speaker Stumbo and other lawmakers to win passage of landmark legislation to prevent the abuse and diversion of prescription pills in the Commonwealth.

Since its implementation on July 20, 2012, 10 pain clinics have shut their doors, 35 physicians have been disciplined for prescribing violations and for the first time in a decade fewer controlled substances, like hydrocodone and oxycodone, are being prescribed in the Commonwealth.

General Conway also continues to work closely with local law enforcement through the statewide Prescription Drug Diversion Task Force he launched in 2009 to crack down on overprescribing physicians, those trafficking in prescription pills and pill mills. The task force has been involved in more than 130 prescription drug diversion investigations, including Operation Flamingo Road, the state's largest prescription drug bust that resulted in the arrests of more than 500 people.

General Conway also reached across party lines to work with Florida's Attorney General Pam Bondi to ensure that her state implemented an electronic prescription drug monitoring system similar to Kentucky's KASPER system. The two continue to work closely to combat prescription drug abuse in their respective states and nationally. Generals Conway and Bondi are co-chairing the National Association of Attorneys General's (NAAG) Substance Abuse Committee and are committed to ensuring that all 50 states have prescription drug monitoring programs and that all of the programs can share data across state lines. They've also testified together in front of Congress about the explosion of prescription drug abuse.

Additionally, the Attorney General's office is a member of the Interstate Prescription Drug Task Force that is working with neighboring states, like Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia, to shut down the prescription drug pipeline into Kentucky.

For more information on General Conway's drug diversion efforts or the Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program, please visit http://ag.ky.gov/rxabuse/ .

Deadline nearing for Keep Kentucky Kids Safe PSA Contest

Kentucky middle and high school students have until December 7, 2012 to submit their entries for the annual Keep Kentucky Kids Safe public service announcement (PSA) contest. Students are asked to create a 30-second video PSA on the consequences of prescription drug abuse. Top prizes include an Apple iPad, generously donated by NADDI, and a $100 Amazon.com gift card donated by the Kentucky Pharmacists Association.

Details are available at http://ag.ky.gov/rxabuse .