FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The White House drug czar called Thursday
for cooperation among educators, law enforcement and others to
combat the nation's growing abuse of prescription pills.
Gil Kerlikowske briefed the newly formed Congressional Caucus on
Prescription Pill Abuse on Thursday about his findings from a tour
of some of the hardest hit communities, including some in Kentucky.
"Our collaborative approach to reducing this public health
threat requires all of us to work," to he said.
Kerlikowske, a proponent of state-run prescription monitoring
programs, also encouraged local authorities to set up disposal
sites for people to empty their medicine cabinets of unused
"For more than a decade, southern and eastern Kentucky has been
ground-zero for the abuse of prescription medication, and the
misuse of these otherwise life-saving drugs has reached an
epidemic-level nationwide," Republican U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers of
Kentucky, who is co-chairman of the caucus, said in a statement.
Caucus co-chairwoman U.S. Rep. Mary Bono Mack said recent
arrests in Florida have focused attention on the life-and-death
struggle of prescription pill addicts.
Bono Mack, chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Commerce,
Manufacturing, and Trade, said she intends to hold public hearings
in the next month on prescription pill abuse.
"Few things are more destructive," she said. "Addiction
continues to be a serious and rapidly escalating problem across
Kerlikowske spent three days in Kentucky last month touring
communities that have been dealing with widespread painkiller
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell had encouraged
Kerlikowske in hopes of raising public awareness nationally of
issues facing a region where more people die from drugs than car
crashes. McConnell said "an astonishingly high" 82 Kentuckians
die each month to overdoses.
Kerlikowske said he was impressed by the collaboration he saw
between public and private sectors in combating the problem.
"Drug abuse threatens everything that is best about our
country," McConnell said in a statement Thursday. "It turns
productive citizens into hopeless addicts, destroys the bonds
between family members, and brings violence into our schools and
communities. We must do everything we can to end the plague of drug
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)