INDIANAPOLIS -- U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly and Fifth District Congresswoman Susan Brooks want to create a federal drug task force that can work with Gov. Mike Pence’s newly-created state-level drug abuse task force to help address the heroin crisis gripping the state and the nation.
Legislation Donnelly authored – and a companion bill sponsored by Brooks – would create a federal task force to combat drug abuse. Brooks says it would marshal the efforts of several federal agencies to help identify best practices, including ways to reduce the overprescribing of medication.
“Eighty percent of the heroin users in the country start out as prescription drug users,” Brooks said.
Indiana is one of only 13 states that prescribes more than 100 painkiller prescriptions per every 100 citizens. And State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams notes it’s not the so-called “pill mills,” made up of doctors who intentionally and recklessly overprescribe, that are the biggest issue.
“What it’s about is educating the doctors, the dentists, the nurses, the PAs, the other prescribers who aren’t bad actors, who aren’t just out there trying to make money off of giving out pills but who need to be enabled and empowered to properly prescribe,” Adams said.
Both Brooks and Adams stress the need for greater education for everyone from schoolchildren to medical students to patients.