Senator Collins Praises President Bush for Efforts to Crack Down on Prescription Drug Abuse

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) today praised the President’s efforts to crack down on prescription drug abuse, a problem that has reached epidemic proportions in the United States.

“President Bush should be commended for taking steps to reduce prescription drug abuse in the United States,” said Senator Collins. “Making more funding available for prescription drug monitoring programs will help states to tackle the serious problem of addiction.

“More than 11 million Americans abuse prescription drugs. In many states, including my own, deaths from prescription drug overdose now exceed deaths from illicit drugs. Nationally, emergency room visits for prescription drug overdose more than doubled in the last decade. The problem is not with these medications when they are prescribed, dispensed and consumed responsibly. The problem is what happens when that chain of responsibility breaks.

“I plan to introduce legislation soon that will emphasize our responsibility, as individuals and as a society, to see that these beneficial medications are used for their intended purposes, not to cause addiction and death,” Senator Collins concluded.

Senator Collins noted that prescription drug monitoring programs should not hinder access to drugs by legitimate patients or infringe on patient confidentiality.

At a Senate Governmental Affairs Committee hearing held in Bangor, Maine in August 2003, several expert witnesses—from the fields of medicine, treatment and law-enforcement—testified that no community is immune from the problems related to prescription drug abuse. In fact, nearly one in five American high school juniors and seniors say they abuse prescription drugs. The cost of drug abuse to society, in terms of treatment, healthcare, lost productivity, crime and incarceration, exceeds $150 billion a year.