News Release
Contact: PIO Rusty Payne
Public Information Officer
Number: (202) 307-7977

New Data Reveal 400% Increase in Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions for People Abusing Prescription Drugs

July 16 -- WASHINGTON - Today, Michele M. Leonhart, Acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and Thomas McLellan, Deputy Director of ONDCP, joined Peter Delany, Director of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) Office of Applied Studies to release a new study showing a 400 percent increase in substance abuse treatment admissions for prescription pain relievers. Governor Jack Markell of Delaware and Chris Kennedy Lawford were also in attendance.

The study, Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions Involving Abuse of Pain Relievers 1998-2008, conducted by the SAMHSA, and based on the agency's Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) reveals a 400 percent increase between 1998 and 2008 of substance abuse treatment admissions for those aged 12 and over reporting abuse of prescription pain relievers. The increase in the percentage of admissions abusing pain relievers spans every age, gender, race, ethnicity, education, employment level, and region. The study also shows a more than tripling of pain reliever abuse among patients who needed treatment for opioid dependence.

"The data released today is alarming and shows the tremendous damage being caused by prescription drug abuse all across this country each and every day," said DEA Acting Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. "The effective enforcement of laws regulating the distribution of controlled substances, coupled with their lawful disposal are essential parts of a comprehensive strategy to reduce drug abuse. DEA is committed to being part of the solution, however it will take all of us working together to prevent the tragedies that inevitably come with drug abuse."

"The TEDS data released today highlights how serious a threat to public health we face from the abuse of prescription drugs", said Gil Kerlikowske, National Drug Policy Director. "The spikes in prescription drug abuse rates captured by this study are dramatic, pervasive, and deeply disturbing."

"The non-medical use of prescription pain relievers is now the second-most prevalent form of illicit drug use in the Nation, and it’s tragic consequences are seen in substance abuse treatment centers and hospital emergency departments throughout our Nation" said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. "This public health threat demands that we follow the President's National Drug Control Strategy's call for an all-out effort to raise awareness of this risk and the critical importance of properly using, storing, and disposing of these powerful drugs."

"This rise in prescription drug abuse is no surprise to the doctors and law enforcement professionals who see its effects in our communities," said Governor Markell. "We have been focused on making sure that health care professionals have the best tools available to detect and prevent this kind of abuse before it ruins lives. Delaware's new legislation to authorize a prescription monitoring program is one of those tools and an important component of the President's National Drug Control Strategy."

"Our national prescription drug abuse problem cannot be ignored. I have worked in the treatment field for the last 35 years, and recent trends regarding the extent of prescription drug abuse are startling," said A. Thomas McLellan, Deputy Director of ONDCP. "We must work with prescribers, the pharmaceutical industry, law enforcement, and families to help us fight this scourge."

The National Drug Control Strategy, released in May, outlines several steps to address what Director Kerlikowske calls "the fastest-growing drug problem in the United States"--prescription drug abuse.

They include

* Increasing prescription drug return, take-back, and disposal programs. Prescription drugs that are commonly abused are often found in the family medicine cabinet, and individuals should get rid of unused or expired prescription drugs to prevent diversion and abuse.

* Educating physicians about opiate painkiller prescribing. The Administration's FY 2011 Budget request proposes funding for a program to train prescribers on how to instruct patients in the use and proper disposal of painkillers, to observe signs of dependence, and to use prescription drug monitoring programs to detect when an individual is going from doctor to doctor in search of prescriptions (also called "doctor shopping").

* Expanding prescription drug monitoring programs. Currently, these programs are operating in 34 states. The Administration supports establishment of these programs in every state, and is seeking to ensure new and existing monitoring programs effectively use the data they acquire and share information across state lines.

* Assisting states in addressing doctor shopping and pill mills. Criminal organizations have established thriving businesses of transporting people to states with little regulation to obtain prescription drugs from multiple doctors or from pill mills, which distribute drugs indiscriminately. Federal, state, local, and tribal authorities are working together to address this problem.

* Driving illegal Internet pharmacies out of business.

* Cracking down on rogue pain clinics that do not follow appropriate prescription practices.

The National Drug Control Strategy provides a blueprint for reducing prescription drug abuse. Parents, law enforcement, the medical community, and all levels of government have a role to play in reducing prescription drug abuse.

Later today, Director Kerlikowske will travel to Delaware to attend Governor Markell's bill signing for the Delaware Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

Authorities seize $200,000 in narcotics in District
Washington Post

Armed with 46 arrest warrants, more than 200 police and drug enforcement officers rounded up hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of narcotics in a citywide drug bust Thursday.

Law enforcement officers also issued 21 search warrants, seized seven guns and confiscated more than $200,000 worth of narcotics, which included cocaine, PCP, marijuana and Oxycotin, said officials from the D.C. police and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration at a news conference at the Kennedy Recreation Center in Northwest Washington.

The operation targeted Trinidad and the area around Rosedale Street in Northeast and Seventh and O streets in Northwest, said D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier.

At least two of the arrests made Thursday are connected to recent shootings, Lanier said, adding that "significant progress" has been made in many of the investigations related to the bust.

"The arrests and the people we targeted are involved in drug distribution and much of the violence that surrounds that drug distribution," she said.

The bust, which involved about 240 officers, began about 5 a.m. Thursday and was expected to continue throughout the day.

33 Arrests in Prescription Drug Ring

Buffalo, NY -- Dubbed "Operation Pill Pusher" by the Drug Enforcement Agency, federal, state, and local law enforcers made 33 arrests Thursday in a first-of-its-kind investigation into the illegal distribution and sale of prescription medications.

The investigation started with Justin Doyle, 23, who is accused of dealing OxyContin pills from the Cheektowaga gas station at Union Road and William Street at which he worked.

That investigation leads to a larger distribution network, and the other arrests in the case. Michael McCall, who is alledged to have run the ring, was arrested under the drug kingpin law, and faces a minimum mandatory term of 20 years in prison if convicted.

"When used as directed by a doctor, prescritpion medications can be a benefit. But when they end up in the hands of the wrong people, they can be dangerous, even deadly," said US Attorney William Hochul in announcing the arrests.

Hochul says anyone with these pills in the medicine cabinet can unwittingly be a source for illegal distribution, and that families, doctors, and pharmacists have to be aware of the problem.

DEA Resident Agent in Charge Charles Tomaszewski acknowledged that illegally distributed prescription drugs are "the drug of choice for the younger generation," and that the problem has been growing over the last 4 or 5 years, and spreads from "Lockport to Orchard Park. "

"It is a very troubling development," said Hochul. "Many of us are parents. To think that our own mediacine cabinets could becomne the source for some of these problems is a terrible tragedy. The youth apparently don't understand that even though it has a prescription name on it, and that it comes in a nice bottle from the pharacy, there's death inside."

Pill investigation leads to 12 arrests

The culmination of a yearlong investigation, State Police have arrested 12 people -- most from Slidell -- and are searching for three others in connection with a St. Charles Parish-based prescription fraud scheme that operated throughout the metro area.

The individuals trafficked prescription drugs, fraudulently obtaining more than 70,000 pills, including methadone, oxycodone, alprazolam, hydrocodone, carisopridol and morphine sulphate, according to a recent release by State Police Troop B, based in Kenner.

The three individuals still at large are Jason Ness, 27, of 243 Avenue B, Westwego; Dwayne Knight, 34, of 744 Mystic Ave., Gretna; and Linda Martin, 54, of 30 Thomas School Road, Lumberton, Miss. The State Police are asking anyone with information on their whereabouts to contact local law enforcement agencies.

The 12 arrests occurred Tuesday and were part of a multiagency investigation conducted with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office and the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office.

John Cassisa, 39, Laura Cassisa, 24, and Christopher Klingbeil, 33, all of Slidell, are charged with conspiracy, producing fraudulent prescriptions and fraudulently verifying those prescriptions. They each also are charged with various counts of obtaining or conspiring to obtain controlled dangerous substances.

John Cassisa, of 405 Hickory Drive, was charged with 41 counts of obtaining controlled dangerous substances and 319 counts of conspiracy to obtain controlled dangerous substances. Laura Cassisa, of 140 Greencrest Port, was charged with 39 counts of obtaining controlled dangerous substances and 219 counts of conspiracy to obtain controlled dangerous substances.

And Klingbeil, of 118 Bernay Drive, was charged with 89 counts of obtaining controlled dangerous substances and 219 counts of conspiracy to obtain controlled dangerous substances.

The remaining nine individuals arrested were only charged with various counts of obtaining controlled dangerous substances.

>> TEDS Data Report