LEXINGTON — Floyd Commonwealth’s Attorney Brent Turner and Paintsville Police Chief Bill Holbrook will be among the presenters next week, at the state’s first-ever Prescription Drug Abuse Summit.
The one-day event, scheduled for next Wednesday, is being organized by Kerry Harvey, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, and David J. Hale, U.S. attorney for the Western District. Other speakers at the event will include Gov. Steve Beshear, University of Kentucky President Dr. Eli Capilouto, and Wilfredo Ferrer, who serves as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida and has been instrumental in that state’s efforts to investigate and prosecute owners of rogue pain clinics, commonly known as “pill mills.”
Harvey and Hale say prescription pill abuse has become one of the top law enforcement priorities in the state. In the Eastern District of Kentucky, Harvey’s office prosecuted 120 cases involving prescription pill abuse in 2010 and 2011, more than double the number of cases involving any other type of drug.
But despite their backgrounds, Harvey and Hale say that law enforcement alone will not solve the problem. The two prosecutors say combatting the problem will require efforts from health care, social services, regulators and education professionals, which is why they have partnered with the UK Colleges of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmacy to host the summit.
“This summit will lead to increased communication and awareness among all those that are engaged in this fight,” Harvey said. “We encourage more industry professionals who are a part of this ongoing battle to attend, so we can create a strong and united front to combat this pill epidemic.”
Turner is scheduled to address the conference that morning, to speak on the impact prescription drug abuse is having on local communities. Holbrook will be part of a panel discussion a little later, discussing how law enforcement is responding to the problem.
“What I’ve done in the past when I’ve been asked to give this kind to presentation, is to talk about some of the things we see on a state and local level, as prosecutors, as well as the human impact, such as the lives destroyed …” Turner said. “One of the things I’ve noticed when you go away from here, everyone in Central Kentucky and elsewhere spends a lot of time talking about the drug problem in Eastern Kentucky using statistics, but very few of them have a real understanding about how it affects people.”
Others on the schedule include Van Ingram, executive director of the state Office of Drug Control Policy, and Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner, along with a host of UK doctors.
The summit is free and open to industry professionals. For questions or to register for the pill summit, contact Harvey’s office by calling (859) 685-4805 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.