Attorney General McKenna is fighting back against the rise in prescription drug abuse in Washington State. In addition to organizing internet pages to support law enforcement in the battle, he visited the headquarters of the News Tribune, where he furnished the newspaper with the latest startling statistics:
- Prescription drug overdoses are killing far more people in Washington State than heroin, cocaine and meth combined.
- Methadone is the biggest culprit, followed by Oxycodone and Hydrocodone (the opiate in Vicodin).
- In 2005-06, Washington ranked sixth in the nation for the percentage of people 12 and older who misused prescription pain relievers.
- The state's medical director says that the increased daily doses being prescribed by doctors are not associated with improved outcomes and are most likely leading to increased tolerance, which can lead people to overdose.
The attorney general says he is frustrated by federal rules prohibiting pharmacists from collecting surplus medication back from the patients who purchase them. But the article notes that at least one sheriff in Clallam County has circumvented the rules by deputizing local pharmacists to do just that.