SOMERSET, Ky. (WYMT) - In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labelled America's prescription painkiller overdose problem an epidemic. This week, Representative Hal Rogers co-sponsored two separate bills designed to place tighter controls on Oxycontin and hydrocodone.
On Wednesday, Rogers joined more than 40 bipartisan members of Congress in sponsoring the "Safe Prescribing Act of 2013," which would reclassify hydrocodone-based pain killers like Vicodin and Loritab from Schedule Three to Schedule Two.
Rogers says the bill would prevent doctors from over-prescribing these medicines.
"If we can get those out of the family medicine cabinet, where it no longer fuels addiction and overdoses around the country, we'll be a big step ahead," Rogers said Friday in Somerset.
On Thursday, Rogers and others took aim at Oxycontin with the "Stop Oxy Abuse Act of 2013." He says the bill would prohibit pharmaceutical companies from producing generic forms of the drug that are not crush-resistant.
"When you take away the time-release part of that drug, and you use that 12-hour release instantly, it's a severe high," he said.
Drug policy advocates praise the new legislation, saying lawmakers are finally acknowledging prescription drug abuse is a national problem.
"This is really the first time we've seen these monumental steps forward, to get drugs off the street and close down these unscrupulous doctors and the scourge that they're causing," said Karen Kelly, director of Operation UNITE.
Advocates say one person dies every 15 minutes from a prescription drug overdose. They say the bills are steps in the right direction to keep these drugs off the streets.
Congressman Rogers will deliver a keynote address at the upcoming National Prescription Drug Abuse Summit, which takes place April second through the fourth in Orlando, Florida.