Click here to read the White House plan: http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/publications/pdf/rx_abuse_plan.pdf
Click here to read more stories about prescription drug abuse: http://wvgazette.com/News/pillageCHARLESTON, W.Va. -- With federal officials focused on prescription drug abuse, officials in West Virginia hope communities and local police will get more resources to fight the epidemic.
Earlier this week, the White House unveiled the nation's first comprehensive plan to curb prescription drug abuse. Federal lawmakers also recently introduced legislation to crack down on so-called "pill mills," which illegally distribute massive amounts of prescriptions.
The federal focus on prescription drug abuse could bring more funds and other resources to local law enforcement, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said Wednesday.
He added that the national attention could be just as helpful as money, because it could show what "other parts of the country can do to help address the very real difficulties that we face here in Appalachia."
Pill trafficking reaches across state borders, he said, with drugs flowing into West Virginia from areas such as southern Florida and Detroit.
West Virginia has the nation's highest rate of drug overdose deaths. Of those, more than 90 percent involve prescription drugs.
For the past six months, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy worked with federal agencies to develop the strategy announced this week. The plan seeks to reduce prescription drug misuse by 15 percent over the next five years.
In February, national drug policy director Gil Kerlikowske visited West Virginia as part of a tour through Appalachia. He stopped in Charleston for a summit organized by Goodwin's office, and in Huntington for a community roundtable discussion hosted by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.
"He obviously listened, and there are some very good practical solutions in that plan," Goodwin said.
The White House proposal touches on four areas:
Opiate painkillers are the most commonly abused prescription drug.
Among other things, the national strategy includes increased training for health providers on recognizing substance abuse and prescribing opiate medications; more training for police; and a nationwide public education campaign.
Drug manufacturers would have to develop educational material for patients about the proper use and disposal of opiate painkillers.