NEW YORK — Legislation introduced in the Senate would coordinate efforts at various levels of government and industry to reduce the growing problem of prescription drug abuse.
The bill, the Combatting Prescription Drug Abuse Act, was introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., drawing praise from pharmacy groups. Among other things, the bill could create a 30-member Combatting Prescription Drug Abuse Commission that would include people from health care and law enforcement, including people from the pharmacy industry.
"It makes perfect sense that problems like drug abuse and meeting patients' needs merit the highest form of collaboration among experts in government and in the private sector, but the best of intentions do not always provide that," National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and CEO Steven Anderson said, calling the bill a "highly reasoned and realistic approach to one of the complex public health problems of our day." "This commission is a sincere approach to leverage experience, insights, resources and dedication for the good of public health and public safety, and it should be pursued aggressively."
Abuse of prescription drugs has attracted growing attention in recent years. According to a survey of 621 people in May commissioned by the Digital Citizens Alliance and conducted by Zogby Analytics found that 1-in-3 college students reported abusing prescription drugs to get through finals. Another study, commissioned by drug maker Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals and conducted by Harris Interactive in June, found widespread misperceptions among consumers and doctors about opioid dependence, while a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey earlier this month found a 400% increase in women dying from opioid painkiller overdoses between 1999 and 2010