Billboards around Indiana are part of an awareness campaign about the dangers of prescription drug abuse announced Monday by Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller.
The signs in Allen, Jackson, Marion, Monroe and Scott counties will note that someone in the United States dies every 25 minute from a prescription drug overdose. The Indiana Department of Health estimates 654 Hoosiers die annually from prescription drug abuse.
A Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force chaired by Zoeller met for the first time last week. The task force includes lawmakers and representatives of law enforcement, health officials, pharmaceutical representatives, education providers and others.
A website launched Monday - www.IndianaConsumer.com/Rx - will provide updates on the task force’s work. Its launch coincides with “Wake Up to Medicine Abuse Week” through Saturday. The week also includes events in which Hoosiers can safely turn in unwanted prescriptions Saturday during National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To find the nearest collection site visit www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/.
"There has been a 500 percent increase in poisoning deaths in our state over the past 10 years," said Dr. Joan Duwve, IDH chief medical officer and co-chair of the task force. "And most of those are due to drug overdoses. This is a dangerous epidemic that is affecting every community in Indiana."
“Prescription drug overdoses and the non-prescription use of medication is an epidemic that continues to have a stronghold in our communities,” Zoeller said. “It’s critical everyone work together to break away from this trend. I believe any solutions will require a comprehensive approach that includes education, training, treatment, tracking and enforcement.”