Drug Czar Kerlikowske Suddenly Discovers Prescription Drug Death Crisis

Monday, March 05, 2012
Gil Kerlikowske
Admitting the issue deserved his attention much sooner, White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske told Congress this week that prescription drug abuse is “a national crisis” that must be addressed.
Kerlikowske, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, told lawmakers in a mea culpa that the issue was “not on the radar screen” until recently.
What he should have said was that it wasn’t on his radar, because health officials and activists across the country have been trying to call attention to the problem for years. Prescription opioid pain killers caused more overdose deaths in 2007 than heroin and cocaine combined. In 2008, almost 1,000 people died from taking Oxycodone in Florida alone.
“We weren’t paying attention to it,” Kerlikowske told the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade. “That was a huge mistake.”
Although poor Americans have been dying by the thousands because of prescription drugs, it apparently took the death of Whitney Houston to catch Kerlikowske’s attention.  “I think it is what we might call a teachable moment when someone passes,” he said, “particularly someone as highly thought of and such an incredible performer as Whitney Houston.”
Prescription drug overdoses, often involving OxyContin, have become the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., surpassing gunshot wounds and automobile accidents.
The economic cost is estimated to be at least $50 billion annually, owing to expenses incurred by health care providers, employers and taxpayers.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
To Learn More:
Florida, Kentucky Plead For Unity In Fighting Drug Abuse (by Curtis Tate, McClatchy Newspapers)
Drugs Now Cause More Deaths than Car Crashes (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Prescription Drugs Cause More Deaths than Illegal Drugs (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov) 


Jeanneth 8 years ago
You should be ptriinng their names in this article or this information won't help save any lives; isn't that the point? My own daughter had a female physiatrist (a medical doctor who is a trained pain specialist) who worked alone and SOLD my daughter Actiq a Fentanyl pop that almost put her six feet under to an early grave. She is still esteemed in Southern Cali and still killing patients by means of horrific addictions to this drug that should only be given in the last days of life in cancer patients. My daughter, then a newlywed, was given this drug for body aches. It caused an abundant amount of physical problems and then, after 5 years, it put her in the hospital to fight for her life.
Lori Smith 11 years ago
I lost my 15 yr old son Nolan James Smith to an accidental overdose Jan 16, 2009. He was left on a porch in Aliso Viejo, Ca to fend for himself. He didn't make it. There were adults who saw him and didn't call 911. Shame on them.These people should be accountable also. There needs to be this law that allows adults or kids to call 911 or take these kids to the hospital without getting in trouble. This could of saved my son's life.
donna 12 years ago
right about drug overdose had a frend overdose in florida 2 years ago, this has gotten out off control please focus on the drugs that are hurting and killing people and destroying familys, legalize marijuana!
jway 12 years ago
gil's been too busy busting marijuana smokers to worry about substances that could actually harm you. thanks gil. how'd you get the job again?

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