Thursday, July 9, 2009

Drug Czar On CNN: "Talk To Your Kids"

"This prescription drug problem doesn't know boundaries of race, or ethnicity, or economic class," the Director of National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in an interview today on "The Situation Room."

Kerlikowske, who is better known as the nation's drug czar, said that Michael Jackson's death "is a wake-up call to the country about prescription drugs". He said that the death rate from drug overdoses in this country is greater than that for gunshot wounds. The latest data, according to Kerlikowske, put the number of drug overdoses "in the 30,000 range" in 2006.

Blitzer entered into the conversation of his own interview: "We look at these celebrities like Michael Jackson, Anna Nicole Smith, or Heath Ledger - the allegations of addiction - and it's going on in part because doctors are not doing what they're supposed to do," he said.

"There are doctors who abuse the law and abuse their patients," Kerlikowske said, although he was quick to point out that the majority of doctors are working within the law and are genuinely concerned about their patients. "There are a number of parts," he said. "There are patients who doctor shop. There are drugs that are taken out of extended care facilities or medicine cabinets. There's a whole list of things."

Blitzer pressed Kerlikowske on the issue of bad doctors: "How do you punish these doctors who just give prescriptions for really serious drugs they shouldn't be giving?" he asked.

"Well, the Drug Enforcement Administration does a very good job on that," Kerlikowske, who is the former police chief of Seattle, answered. "The thing that really looks bright is the prescription drug monitoring programs - 38 states now have laws; 33 have operations - that gives the public health services, and sometimes law enforcement, the ability to find out about doctors that are perhaps over-prescribing, and it also gives the opportunity to find out about patients who are going to multiple doctors."

"If you have money," Blitzer responded, staying on the subject of bad doctors, "you'll basically be able to find a doctor who's willing to write a prescription basically for almost anything. There are doctors who abuse the system to make a buck."

"Yes, but there are a lot of other ways these drugs, these powerful painkillers, these prescriptions, that are getting out into the hands of young people," the drug czar responded.

When asked by Blitzer how we stop the problem, Kerlikowske said that "we're advocates of the prescription drug monitoring programs where the states are passing these laws and we're going to work very closely to make sure they have the tools to put these into effect. The other is our media campaign, the Anti-Drug Youth Media Campaign. We ran a number of ads both in February of '08 and also in April of '09 to educate parents, look, be concerned about what's in your medicine cabinets."

Blitzer asked Kerlikowske if there is a lesson to be learned from Michael Jackson's tragic death. He answered: "If we can bring to the attention of the people the dangers of prescription drug abuse, I think there is some benefit to this country."

Kerlikowske's best advice from his rambling interview with Blitzer: "Talk to your kids."


  1. If anything good can come out of Michael Jackson's death, this is it. Prescription drugs are way too prevelant among our kids. It's a good time to talk to young people. This is an important subject, and the media should play up this angle. Jackson's death has been turned into a media event. Hopefully a discussion will come up so that other people, especially kids, won't turn to prescription drugs. As the article states, this is not just something for the rich.

  2. This is a very big problem. Hopefully Jackson's death will have some meaning. The media is starting to dig deeper into the drug use, so now's the time to discuss the issue.

  3. And tell the kids what? Yes swallow those pills the school won't let you in if you do not take your meds. The pill pushing Doctors have added to the mess. Why fix a problem when you can medicate it for years and keep your revolving door going. Jackson being a wake-up call; what a joke. He is just another in a long line of celebs that went down with the drugs. Then the media and millions of other morons talk about how great he was.

  4. I like the way it is, or at least used to be in the mid-70s, in the Middle East.

    There are no prescriptions. The drug stores are like a Minuit Market or a 7-11 here. You can buy anything you want, in any quantities. And, it's VERY cheap.

    I asked one of the pharmacists if there was a drug problem.

    The answer: “No. If someone has an abuse problem, they die.”

    IMHO, it’s not a bad system ....

  5. Thanks to Wolf Blitzer for ansking the tough questions.

  6. Check your spelling, Sherry. Thanks to Wolf Blitzer for "asking" the obvious questions. The problems start with the doctors. Look at the little pill bottles. They have to have the name of a doctor on them. Doctor shopping? Isn't there a prescription database or something? I thought there was. Either way, the doctors need to wise up, maybe look for the signs. People hooked on prescription drugs show some sort of symptems. I'm sure a lot of these doctors who are writing multiple/overlapping prescriptions are able to tell a drug addict from a legitimite patient. If not, Obama's plan to computerize records should definitely help in this area. No matter what, the important thing we need to do is talk to our kids. That's good advice. Some good has come of the MJ tragedy if this opens up the discussion, but we have a short attention span. Once the media moves on to something else, we'll have another issue to discuss with our kids. Let's face it, parents need to discuss important issues with their kids, and not wait for news events to dictate the time. By then, it could be too late.

  7. This Kirlikowkse character seems to want to cut these moron doctors some slack. The fact is, the majority of doctors will prescribe whatever it is you ask for. At least that's my experience.

  8. This "czar" thing is getting out of hand. There's the Drug Czar, Car Czar, Climate Czar, Intelligence Czar, Tech Czar, Energy Czar, Economy Czar, Border Czar, Education Czar, Performance Czar, Bailout Czar, Regulatory Czar, God Czar, and TARP Czar. Didn't we fight the War of Independence to rid ourselves of the monarchy?

  9. Actually, "ansking" means asking a question you already know the answer to.