WASHINGTON—Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States, and the nation’s governors play a critical role in developing and implementing a coordinated and effective response. To assist governors in their efforts, the National Governors Association (NGA) is hosting a year-long prescription drug abuse initiative co-chaired by Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Today, NGA announced the selection of five states Arkansas, Kentucky, New Mexico, Oregon and Virginia  to join Alabama and Colorado in developing and implementing comprehensive and coordinated strategies that take advantage of all available tools and resources to address this growing problem.

Between September 2012 and April 2013, states will:

  • Participate in two, two-day policy academy meetings;
  • Participate in an in-state policy workshop;
  • Receive targeted technical assistance from NGA Center staff and a national faculty of experts;
  • Participate in networking activities; and
  • Receive a $45,000 subgrant to support related activities.

“We are united by a common goal, and that is to reduce prescription drug abuse,” Gov. Bentley said. “We will work together on appropriate solutions to this problem. At the same time, we will also discuss ways to continue to ensure proper access for those who legitimately need these medications.”

NGA also released a new issue brief, Six Strategies for Reducing Prescription Drug Abuse, that highlights strategies and provides recommendations for governors looking to reduce prescription drug abuse in their state.

“Developing an effective strategy will require balancing the needs and concerns of patients, public health, law enforcement and the medical community,” said Gov. Hickenlooper. “Finding a way to work together will help decrease the number of individuals who are misusing or abusing prescription drugs.”

The brief identifies a number of key strategies states can adopt, including:

  • Making better use of prescription drug monitoring programs;
  • Enhancing enforcement efforts;
  • Ensuring proper disposal of prescription drugs;
  • Leveraging the state’s role as regulator and purchaser of services;
  • Building partnerships among key stakeholders; and
  • Promoting public education about prescription drug abuse.

This project is in partnership with the National Safety Council and supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, CVS Caremark Corporation, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the Healthcare Distribution Management Association, Rite Aid Corporation, the Alliance of Safe Online Pharmacies and Magellan Health Services. 

To learn more about the prescription drug abuse initiative, please visit www.nga.org/cms/Rx.