September 29, 2011

Rockefeller and Manchin Call for Naming October as National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month

Designation Would Redouble Efforts to Combat Misuse, Abuse of Prescription Drugs, Particularly in West Virginia

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Jay Rockefeller, Chairman of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health Care, and Joe Manchin today announced their support of a resolution designating October 2011 as National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month.  

As West Virginia faces one of the highest rates of prescription drug abuse in the country, this designation would help reinforce the need to raise awareness of this epidemic in the state and throughout the country.

National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month has been observed annually in October.

“West Virginia faces the largest death rate due to prescription drug abuse in the country – a reality that is devastating but also preventable,” said Rockefeller.  “Public education is critical because many people – especially young people -- fall victim to drug abuse or misuse not realizing the very real dangers -- hurting not just themselves, but also their families and communities.  My bill is a top priority, as it aims to educate the public, reduce deaths from prescription drugs, and help those struggling with abuse.  We must use every resource available to reduce prescription drug abuse and this resolution would help to further the cause.”

“Drug abuse in West Virginia – and across the nation – is tearing families apart, destroying our workforce, and setting a terrible example for our children.  It’s going to take all of our best efforts to eliminate drug abuse and create a healthier, stronger future for West Virginia and the nation,” Manchin said.  “If we want to improve our economy and keep West Virginia competitive by attracting residents and businesses, the scourge of drug abuse in our communities is something we must confront head-on, through education, awareness, prevention, and treatment efforts.  I am committed to doing all I can to see this problem eliminated.”   

The bipartisan resolution offers an important, no-cost opportunity to raise awareness of the dangers associated with the misuse and abuse of prescription and over-the-counter medicines.    


In the last decade, West Virginia has experienced a tragic increase in deaths and overdoses from prescription drugs.  Nine out of ten of the drug-related deaths in West Virginia are due to the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs, especially opioid painkillers.

Rockefeller has been working in Congress for several years to raise awareness for the need to fight prescription drug abuse. 

  • On March 8, Rockefeller introduced the Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 2011.  

  • Rockefeller held a roundtable to discuss prescription drug abuse with White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director R. Gil Kerlikowske, state and local leaders, health providers, and law enforcement officials in Huntington on February 25.  

  • He secured over $6 billion in federal funding to help prevent prescription drug abuse.  

  • He pressed for more funding from Congress specifically for fighting prescription drug abuse in the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA).  Rockefeller recently asked the Senate Appropriations Committee for an additional $40 million for the HIDTA program as a result of its tremendous success in drug eradication in the past.  He has also helped educate many counties of the correct qualifications so that they can apply for the HIDTA program.

In April, Senator Manchin announced a three-point plan to combat drug abuse in West Virginia and the nation, which includes critical measures that would ban bath salts and synthetic marijuana, and increase penalties for running “pill mills.”