The United States Drug Czar says the prescription drug abuse problem in Kentucky could be greatly curtailed by a crackdown on the pill trade in Florida. But that crackdown faces stiff opposition.
Florida Governor Rick Scott has proposed cutting a program that would track prescription drugs in his state. Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Congressman Hal Rogers have asked Scott to reconsider.
Office of National Drug Control Policy director—or Drug Czar—Gil Kerlikowske says Florida needs to fight the prescription drug trade, since pills from that state are sold and abused in Kentucky and elsewhere. Kerlikowske hasn’t yet talked to Scott directly about the issue.
“I have not been in contact, but I have certainly made our offer to provide information, help and assistance to his office and his administration available. And I’m very hopeful he’ll take us up on that,” he says.
Kerlikowske is meeting this week with Kentucky law enforcement officials to discuss various issues, including meth and prescription abuse.
State lawmakers are at odds over whether cold medicines that contain the decongestant and meth ingredient pseudoephedrine should be available by prescription only, as they are in Oregon and Mississippi.
Kerlikowske says meth is not a widespread enough problem to warrant presidential action, though he personally supports state efforts to fight the drug.
“Myself and my office, we are very supportive of what has gone on in Oregon on pseudoephedrine. We’re watching very carefully what is occurring in the state of Mississippi. All of these show some very positive impacts of making pseudoephedrine prescription-only,” he says.
Opponents of such measures say they unfairly affect those without insurance or enough money to visit doctors to get prescriptions. Kerlikowske is also visiting drug rehabilitation and treatment facilities in Kentucky.