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The White House
For Immediate Release

Statement from White House Drug Policy Director Kerlikowske Regarding Operation "Pill Nation"

Lexington, Kentucky – Today, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy, released the following statement regarding Operation “Pill Nation.”

“I commend the Drug Enforcement Administration for today’s swift and decisive action against those who have been senselessly fueling our Nation’s prescription drug epidemic. The proliferation of rogue “pill mill” operations has caused massive harm to citizens in Florida, throughout the Southeast, and across our Nation. The vast majority of medical professionals practice medicine with honor and integrity. It is unconscionable that this very small number of doctors trained to ‘do no harm’ would willingly endanger lives or prolong the misery of addiction for any American for the sake of an easy profit. Today’s arrests not only begin the process of bringing to justice those who have broken the law but also reinforce the enduring efforts of drug treatment providers and community leaders throughout America who are working each day to rescue and protect our citizens from the destruction of prescription drug abuse.”

While prescription drugs have benefits when used properly, they are also increasingly abused by teens and young adults. Today, prescription drug abuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 27,000 people died from drug overdose deaths in 2007 – these deaths are driven primarily by prescription drug pain relievers. The rate of deaths has risen five-fold since 1990 and has never been higher. Prescription drugs are now involved in more overdose deaths than heroin and cocaine combined. Because prescription drugs are legal, they are easily accessible, often from a home medicine cabinet. Further, some individuals who misuse prescription drugs, particularly teens, believe these substances are safer than illicit drugs because they are prescribed by a healthcare professional and sold behind the counter.

The Obama Administration’s National Drug Control Strategy provides a blueprint for reducing prescription drug abuse by supporting the expansion of prescription drug monitoring programs, encouraging community prescription take-back initiatives, informing the public of the risks of prescription drug abuse and overdose, recommending disposal methods to remove unused medications from the home, and supporting education for patients and healthcare providers.

To learn more about prescription drug abuse or for tips on how to properly dispose of unneeded prescription drugs visit www.WhiteHouseDrugPolicy.gov