The White House

Office of the National Drug Control Policy

Readout of Oregon Prescription Drug Abuse Summit

Portland, Oregon – Today, senior representatives from the White House Drug Policy Office (ONDCP), met with public health, law enforcement, pharmaceutical, and healthcare experts in Portland to discuss the effects of the national prescription drug abuse epidemic on Oregon and how to implement strategies that will reduce the public health threat of prescription drug abuse. The Oregon Prescription Drug Abuse Summit was co-sponsored by ONDCP, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski, Oregon Attorney General John Kroger, and Oregon U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton.

Prescription drug abuse is the Nations’ fastest-growing drug problem. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the number of Americans in 2009 aged 12 and older currently abusing pain relievers has increased by 20 percent since 2002. According to the Oregon Public Health Division of the Department of Human Services, there have been more than 1,200 overdose deaths in Oregon involving prescription painkillers between 2000 and 2009.

During the summit, Federal, state, local, and private sector officials focused on specific areas of concern regarding prescription drug abuse, including high overdose rates, higher than average rates of misuse among military veterans and active duty service members, and the depiction of prescription drugs in popular culture. Participants discussed how to work more collaboratively to address these concerns by increasing public awareness of the harms of abuse, educating local communities regarding the proper disposal of prescription drugs, and training health professionals to identify and intervene in health care settings to address prescription drug addiction and abuse.

“The abuse of prescription drugs is a threat to the health and safety of young people in Oregon and across the Nation,” said Director of National Drug Policy Gil Kerlikowske, “At a time when drug use in America is on the rise it is critical that parents take action to protect young people by talking to them about the consequences of drug use and purging their medicine cabinets of any unneeded or expired prescription drugs.”

"Government at the local, state and Federal levels have a role in reducing the abuse of prescription drugs," Governor Ted Kulongoski said. "But at the core is our responsibility as adults and as parents to educate our children and talk to them about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs. Our children, while armed with more information and access to technology than we were in our youth, still need our guidance and help in making the right decisions. We owe that to them."

ONDCP is coordinating an unprecedented government-wide public health approach to reduce drug use and its consequences in the United States. This effort includes increasing funding for drug prevention by $203 million and treatment programs by $137 million dollars, expanding prescription drug monitoring programs across the Nation, assisting states in addressing doctor shopping and pill mills, placing a heavier emphasis on early intervention programs in health settings, driving illegal Internet pharmacies out of business, and expanding access to substance abuse treatment. ONDCP has also revamped the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign to include a broader focus on substances most often abused by teens, including prescription drugs, and partnering with communities to reach at-risk youth populations in rural, suburban, and urban communities.