Legislation Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) authored – and a companion bill sponsored by Congresswoman Susan Brooks (R-5th) – 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 over-prescribing of medication.
“80-percent of the heroin users in the country start out as prescription drug users,” Brooks says.
Indiana is one of only 13 states that prescribes more than 100 painkiller prescriptions per every hundred citizens.
And State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams notes it’s not the so-called “pill mills,” made up of doctors who intentionally and recklessly over-prescribe, that are the biggest issue.
“What it’s about is educating the doctors, the dentists, the nurses, the [physicians' assistants], 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 says.
Both Brooks and Adams stress the need for greater education for everyone from schoolchildren to med students to patients.