The goal of the Indiana Attorney General's Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force is to significantly reduce the abuse of controlled prescription drugs and to decrease the number of deaths associated with these drugs in Indiana.
In September 2012, the Indiana Attorney General’s Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force was established by Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller. It is made up of 80+ state legislators, law enforcement, health officials, members of the medical community, pharmacists, state and local agencies and educators. In addition, a significant number of working-group volunteers have contributed to the efforts of the task force.
While prescription drugs provide relief to millions of people every year (when used properly), the misuse and abuse of these drugs has become one of the gravest issues facing Hoosiers of all ages today.
With the number of deaths from painkillers quadrupling since 1999, the task force understands it must work quickly to combat this public health crisis. Since its launch in 2012, the task force has:
• Helped pass key legislation that helps in the fight against prescription drug abuse
• Secured funding for the state prescription drug monitoring program, INSPECT
• Developed a physician toolkit for best prescribing practices
• Researched appropriate prescription drug disposal options
• Educated law enforcement and health care providers at the Fourth Annual Prescription Drug Abuse Symposium
• Researched addiction treatment options and began tackling the issue of neonatal abstinence syndrome
The Indiana Attorney General's Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force is working on many ways to improve the data available on Hoosier deaths. There are also other offices throughout the state, such as the Marion County Coroner, working to help collect and learn from this data.
“When a cause of death is determined as stated on a death certificate, what is listed on the document is the “Primary” cause of the decedent’s death. Due to the complexity of the cases, all elements of the autopsy and toxicology findings are examined. Substances, including prescription drugs, are often found to be contributory factors in a person’s death. The levels of the substances in the system are reviewed and only if found in significant amounts will they be listed on a public document as the “Primary” cause of death. We know that when drugs are abused and taken inappropriately, that there are behavioral and unintentional consequences. In fact, there is ongoing research being done here at the Coroner’s office to look at the various substances that are present in a decedent’s toxicology screen in cases of suicide. We collect this information to study what role that these drugs might have played in that person’s death as they often can impair a person’s decisions and behaviors." – Marion County Chief Deputy Coroner Alfarena Ballew