Today, President Clinton joined NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, New York University President John Sexton, and National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Dr. Nora Volkow for a panel discussion moderated by Wall Street Journal's health reporter Melinda Beck on prescription drug abuse. Throughout the discussion, panelists brought to light the number of individuals affected by prescription drug misuse each year and how the issue is the nation's fastest growing drug problem. In the United States, one person dies every 19 minutes from a drug overdose, a tragedy driven largely by the misuse of prescription painkillers. And, in the last 20 years, the consumption of prescription stimulants increased from 5 million to 45 million.
Throughout the discussion, each panelist highlighted how they are working to address this issue and discussed the many reasons for why prescription drug misuse and abuse is widespread, while also bringing attention to multi-pronged solutions for the issue. NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly highlighted how through their Clinton Health Matters Initiative Commitment to Action, the NYPD will address the problem of drug abuse from the position of enforcement, deterrence, and education. Commissioner Kelly announced that the NYPD will begin reaching out to all colleges and universities across New York City to work with them to increase awareness about prescription drug abuse during freshman orientation. New York University (NYU) President John Sexton highlighted that more than 7 percent of college students across the country in 2012 reported misuse of pain medication, and discussed NYU's commitment to student health and wellness through the university's Wellness Exchange program. The program provides a service 7 days a week, 24 hours a day for students to receive advice and support on a range of issues – whether they have anxiety over exams to problems with prescription drugs to thoughts of suicide. Additionally, Dr. Volkow discussed how it is often the lack of knowledge about how prescription drugs – especially when mixed with other drugs from stimulants to depressants – is what jeopardizes people.
During the panel, President Clinton discussed how the Clinton Health Matters Initiative (CHMI) will work to address the prevalence of prescription drug misuse on university and college campuses as well as emphasize how to reduce the prevalence of this issue in other environments such as demanding workplace settings. President Clinton noted that in just this decade alone, we have the potential to save 10,000 lives.
Over the next 5 years, the Clinton Foundation will work with partners including the NYPD to implement a number of initiatives designed to address the growing health and safety problem of prescription drug abuse. CHMI will also work to help universities foster safer, healthier environments by asking universities across the country to invest in best practices against the abuse and misuse of prescription drugs. CHMI will aim to cut in half the number of young people from 18 to 26-years-old misusing prescription drugs for the first time. Specifically, CHMI will recruit colleges and universities to join a Prescription Safe Campus Initiative (PSCI). Through PSCI, CHMI will build the capacity of student and campus leaders to implement best practice strategies to reduce prescription drug misuse and abuse in areas such as residence halls, campus health centers, campus security and police, employee wellness, student orientation, and athletics programs. Specific strategies will include prevention education programming, student-led awareness campaigns and increased substance abuse and mental health services on participating campuses.
CHMI will aim to cut in half the number of young people from 18 to 26-years-old misusing prescription drugs for the first time. Specifically, CHMI will recruit colleges and universities to address prescription drug misuse on campuses. Through this effort, CHMI will build the capacity of student and campus leaders to implement best practice strategies to reduce prescription drug misuse and abuse in areas such as residence halls, campus health centers, campus security and police, employee wellness, student orientation, and athletics programs. Specific strategies will include prevention education programming, student-led awareness campaigns and increased substance abuse and mental health services on participating campuses.
In addition to working with colleges and universities, CHMI will build strategic partnerships with the corporate, non-governmental, philanthropic, and public sectors to address the following priority challenges to ending prescription drug misuse and abuse:
- Engage businesses that host physically demanding professions, such as energy, health care, the military, and transportation to integrate prescription drug abuse prevention and treatment support into workplace wellness efforts.
- Work with the pharmaceutical industry and others to improve supply and affordability of Naloxone/narcan, a drug used to counter the effects of opiate overdose.
- Engage medical associations, physician groups, retail pharmacy chains and others to expand the reach and improve the effectiveness of prescription drug monitoring programs that help detect and prevent the diversion and abuse of prescription drugs.
Help take action on prescription drug abuse and misuse by making a Commitment to Action in your community.