WASHINGTON—The abuse of prescription drugs is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States, and is the most common type of drug abuse after marijuana use among teens between the ages of 12 and 17. To combat the growing problem, the National Governors Association (NGA) is hosting a year-long project led by Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The Prescription Drug Abuse Reduction Policy Academy is a year-long exercise in strategic planning aimed at reducing prescription drug abuse. In addition to Alabama and Colorado, the project will include five competitively selected states. Under the leadership of Governors Bentley and Hickenlooper, NGA staff will work with seven state teams of senior-level policymakers including governors’ health and criminal justice advisors, state health officials, attorneys general, state chief information officers, legislators, physicians and allied health professional groups with the goal of developing state strategies that take full advantage of all available tools and resources.

“To be truly successful in reducing prescription drug abuse, states must develop and implement a comprehensive statewide strategy that reduces access to prescription drugs for illicit use,” said Gov. Bentley. “Finding ways to address this issue and to halt the growing epidemic is challenging. This project seeks to find solutions to stem the flow of prescription drugs to those who intend to abuse them.”

“The abuse of prescription drugs is growing and can now be seen in communities of all sizes throughout our country,” said Gov. Hickenlooper. “This is a serious problem that is claiming far too many victims. We look forward to working with Gov. Bentley and the National Governors Association to create strategies that will help states deal with this issue.”

The state teams will examine a variety of issues, including:

  • Building and governing a prescription drug monitoring program and implementing privacy safeguards;
  • Assessing legislative, regulatory and information exchange barriers;
  • Developing a coordinated state response across agencies;
  • Coordinating across states and within regions;
  • Examining best practices in treatment;
  • Responding to illicit access points such as online pharmacies; and
  • Coordinating education, tracking and monitoring, proper medication disposal and enforcement efforts.

At the conclusion of the project, NGA will compile and disseminate lessons learned. The project is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, CVS Caremark, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the Healthcare Distribution Management Association, Rite Aid Corporation, the Alliance of Safe Online Pharmacies and Magellan Health Services. 

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Founded in 1908, the National Governors Association (NGA) is the collective voice of the nation’s governors and one of Washington, D.C.’s most respected public policy organizations. Its members are the governors of the 50 states, three territories and two commonwealths. NGA provides governors and their senior staff members with services that range from representing states on Capitol Hill and before the Administration on key federal issues to developing and implementing innovative solutions to public policy challenges through the NGA Center for Best Practices. For more information, visit www.nga.org