President Obama Aims to Reduce RX Drug Abuse

Last week the White House announced a plan aimed at addressing a growing epidemic in the U.S. which has now become the leading cause of death in 17 states.

Reported by Alex Batres

Emergency room doctors at the Wyoming Medical Center say prescription drug abuse is on the rise-in fact doctors say they are treating patients who abuse prescription drugs on a weekly basis.

"Many years ago meth was a problem and now prescription drug abuse is the biggest problem", said Dr. Ron Iverson,Chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine, Wyoming Medical Center.

Another problem is the fact that prescription drugs are readily available and teens are getting their hands on them faster than police can keep up.

"We see it a lot with youth, there are parties where kids will bring whatever prescription they have, throw it in a bucket and pick a pill", said Sara Nelson, Crime Prevention Officer, Caper Police Department.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, accidental overdoses from pain killers killed more people than car accidents in 17 states.

"We have DUI's that are substance related to prescription drugs", said Nelson.

President Obama's plan hopes to tackle the problem by implementing a government-wide public health approach to reduce prescription drug abuse. That plan will include a focus on education and reducing doctor shopping through enforcement efforts.

"We see a lot of patients that fake an illness to get prescription drugs and then they sell the drugs on the street or inject it", said Dr. Iverson.

The plan also calls for all 50 states to adopt prescription drug monitoring programs to track what physicians are prescribing and what pharmacies are dispensing.

"They do monitor prescription drugs in the state although it's sometimes several weeks behind so we can't always get the most current information", said Dr. Iverson.

The plan aims to reduce prescription drug abuse by fifteen percent in over five years among people twelve and older. Meanwhile, police say one of the ways to avoid the drugs getting into the hands of teens in the first place is to keep the medication out of sight and out of mind.

"The biggest point is if your not using the medications, get rid of them, lock it up, put it somewhere where the youth can't get their hands on them", said Nelson.