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Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Radio Smart Talk: Prescription drug abuse growing

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Apr 17, 2013 12:31 PM

Radio Smart Talk for Thursday, April 18:

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The Centers for Disease Control report that more than 38,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2010 -- the last year for which statistics are available.  It was the 11th straight year that the number of overdose deaths increased.  The CDC report also found that the majority of overdose deaths -- about 60% -- were from prescription drugs. 

Abuse of prescription medications is a growing problem.

Three classifications of drugs are being misused most often -- painkillers, depressants to treat anxiety disorders, and stimulants used as a medication for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  In fact, 44% of the overdose deaths attributed to prescription drugs were linked to painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin.

Law enforcement is challenged to detect prescription drug abuse or criminals who sell the drugs illegally.  That's because many times the medications are in the family medicine cabinet or users shop for doctors to write the prescriptions.

Steps are taken to track prescriptions.  In Pennsylvania, legislation has been proposed to set up a database of prescriptions written, but critics worry that the personal information of patients could become available to more people.

Appearing on Thursday's Radio Smart Talk to provide information on the misuse of prescriptions drugs will be Craig LeCadre, Senior Supervisory Special Agent of Education and Outreach in Bureau of Special Investigations with the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General.

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Craig LeCadre


Here's a release from the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office with information about a prescription drug take-back program.  Find locations here.


Attorney General's Office teaming with DEA for Nationwide Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

HARRISBURG - The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General has joined the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and local law enforcement officials from across the state in support of the fifth Nationwide Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane said the program, scheduled for Saturday, April 27th, is an effort to collect potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs for proper disposal and destruction. The service is free and anonymous.

The last National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day was held on Sept. 29, 2012. On that day, law enforcement agencies in all 50 states collected more than 488,000 lbs - 244 tons - of prescription medications.

Kane said that continuing national initiatives to collect expired or unwanted prescription drugs provide opportunities for those who may have missed previous events or who may have accumulated additional prescriptions to dispose of them safely.

Prescription drug abuse in the United States is increasing at an alarming rate. In the past few years the Attorney General's Office has arrested hundreds of individuals involved with abusing or selling prescription drugs. Many of those arrested included doctors, nurses or medical professionals.

A common misconception with prescription drug disposal is that it is safe to flush unwanted medicine down the toilet or simply throw them away. However, the options pose potential health and safety hazards.

The Attorney General's Office encourages participation in this safe, legal and environmentally friendly way of disposing prescription medications.

Collection sites will be available across Pennsylvania on Saturday, April 27, 2013 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. A complete list of local sites is available at

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  • Robert D Colgan img 2013-04-18 08:57

    There is a similarity between this problem of drug abuse ---and gun violence in America.
    In both of these the manufacturers have a huge vested interest in advancing their product, making it available for consumption.
    In both the secondary effects of those who irresponsibly use the products not as safely intended; in both there are those who irresponsibly steal or re-sell for profit either guns or drugs with the end result of someone badly getting injured, crimes committed. we target the population------or the manufacturers?
    If we're to control guns and drugs it would seem that slowing their introduction into society would yield the greatest effects.
    Unfortunately, both the gun mfgs and drug mfgs have some of the strongest lobbying presences and influence over legislators in DC.

    There is no easy answer.
    But getting rid of lobbying and profiteering driving legislation and the election of politicians would certainly help.