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Rahall, Rockefeller to host prescription drug abuse discussions

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WASHINGTON (WVVA) - Two West Virginia lawmakers will convene a pair of roundtable discussions this week to highlight the state's efforts to battle prescription drug abuse.
 
Democrats U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall and Sen. Jay Rockefeller will host the sessions on Thursday -- first in Huntington, then in Charleston.
 
The lawmakers will be joined by White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director Gil Kerlikowske for an in depth conversation with federal, state and local officials on efforts to address the investigation, interdiction and prosecutorial challenges of prescription drug abuse and trafficking in the state and region, and to identify where and how Federal resources might be helpful, according to a news release.
 
The Huntington roundtable will include discussion of ONDCP collaboration with states in support of communities' efforts to address doctor shopping and pill mills; Federal support for drug law enforcement task forces by improving intelligence exchange and information sharing; and, partnering with local law enforcement agencies for training initiatives. Panelists, including U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, will discuss efforts underway and the resources needed to address the crisis in the region.
 
In Charleston, Rahall, Rockefeller and Kerlikowske will meet with health care providers, policy experts and family representatives to discuss the critical need for greater access to substance abuse and mental health treatment programs.
 
The Huntington event is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. at the Forensics Science Center on the campus of Marshall University.
 
The Charleston event follows at 2 p.m. at the Robert C. Byrd Center for Pharmacy on the campus of the University of Charleston.
 
The news release states that Rahall and Rockefeller have been active and vocal in pressing for solutions and policy changes at the Federal level to combat the growing prescription drug abuse epidemic in West Virginia.
 
Last week, Rahall, who is a co-chairman of the Congressional Prescription Drug Abuse Caucus, and Rockefeller, introduced companion legislation, the Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, a multifaceted approach to addressing the unsafe use of prescription pain killers, which the lawmakers first introduced in 2011 to help decrease the number of opioid and methadone-related deaths in West Virginia.
 
Rahall recently announced that the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) would provide training for West Virginia law enforcement professionals and prosecuting attorneys on prescription drug diversion, interdiction and investigative strategies, and Rockefeller has cosponsored legislation to support construction of new behavioral clinics for substance abuse and mental health treatment in West Virginia.
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