News / USA

    Obama Launches Campaign Against Prescription Drug Abuse

    Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, center, accompanied by Office of National Drug Control Policy Director  Gil Kerlikowske, left, and Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Howard Koh, speaks during a news conference
    Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, center, accompanied by Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske, left, and Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Howard Koh, speaks during a news conference

    Government health officials say the abuse of prescribed medications causes more accidental deaths in the United States than anything else except automobile crashes, which kill more than 30,000 Americans every year. Representatives of five federal agencies on Tuesday presented the Obama administration's new plan for reducing prescription drug abuse and saving lives.  

    At the age of 15, Hanna Leos became a drug addict after a high school classmate began sharing with her some powerful prescription anti-anxiety pills.

    "Benzodiazapines, Valium, Xanax, Clonapin, Lorazapam," Leos called out.

    These drugs can be found in the medicine cabinets of many American homes. So can opioid pain killers. Teenagers in growing numbers have been using their parents' prescription drugs to get high.

    "They're prescribed and they get them filled and they just sit there,” she noted. “They sit there for a long time so the kids can take them all."  

    Pharmacists like David Vandriesche are aware of the problem.

    "You hear about people, they had their grandson, granddaughter come visit, then they're running short [of their medication] and refilling it early and they're not sure what happened," he stated.

    At a joint press conference Tuesday, federal health officials and representatives from drug enforcement agencies announced the Obama administration's new National Prescription Drug Abuse Plan, the first comprehensive federal plan for controlling the intentional misuse of doctor-authorized medications.

    It includes retraining one million doctors on proper prescription practices, creating databases to track prescription painkillers and other controlled drugs, educating the public about the danger of prescription drug abuse and stepping up law enforcement.  

    Gil Kerlikowske is President Obama's national drug policy director.  

    "The prescription drug problem cuts across all of the age groups. No one should put a face [on it] that this is a young person's problem, a wealthy person's problem.  This cuts across all the demographics," Kerlikowske said.

    Hanna Leos went to jail after she was caught writing her own prescriptions.  But she is still alive and recovering from her addiction.  

    Rich Perry died of a prescription drug overdose at the age of 21.  His addiction started in high school.  Perry's parents, Karen and Rich Perry, support the administration's plan for prescription drugs.

    "We weren't aware of it because Rich behaved like any normal kid. He was getting good grades.  He was on the golf team. He was just like any other kid," Perry explained.

    Their son's addiction didn't stop at prescription drugs. He became a heroin user. Heroin is cheaper than prescription pain killers like Oxycontin.  The Perrys put him in a treatment program. But addiction is a disease in which relapse is almost normal.

    "But each time....they go into the treatment, they get a clearer understanding of what the signs are and how to prevent it, Of course, there's always that risk that they don't make it to the next time in treatment.  My son did not," Karen Perry said.  

    The Perrys started a task force to prevent other families from losing a loved one from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs.

    You May Like

    Video How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Scientists Detect Gravitational Waves in Landmark Discovery

    Researchers likened discovery to difference between looking at piece of music on paper and then hearing it in real life

    Prince Ali: FIFA Politics Affected International Fixtures

    Some countries faced unfavorable treatment for not toeing political line inside soccer world body, Jordanian candidate to head FIFA says

    This forum has been closed.
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    NATO to Target Migrant Smugglersi
    Jeff Custer
    February 11, 2016 4:35 PM
    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.