Wednesday, March 14, 2001

Ky. meeting today targets OxyContin

By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A Kentucky task force charged with attacking the illicit use of the painkiller OxyContin will meet for the first time today.

        Representatives from 15 agencies — including the state attorney general's office, state police and prosecutor's office — are expected to attend the 9:30 a.m. meeting in Frankfort.

        Gov. Paul Patton announced the formation of the task force in late February after a bust in Eastern Kentucky netted more than 200 drug indictments involving the illegal sale or use of OxyContin. The time-release drug is used to temper chronic pain associated with diseases such as cancer.

        Lt. Kevin Payne, a Kentucky State Police spokesman, said he expects a briefing at the meeting today about the discussions at a multistate summit held in Virginia earlier this month.

        At that meeting, authorities from Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland met with senior officials of OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LC and members of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

        Virginia Attorney General Mark L. Earley then outlined a plan for his state for stopping the proliferation of the drug.

        Purdue Pharma agreed to help educate the public and enforce proper use of the narcotic, and plans have already been tailored for Virginia.

        Lt. Payne said Kentucky task force likely will try to develop a plan for the commonwealth.

        Corey Bellamy, spokesman for the Kentucky attorney general's office, said the state has developed programs to combat the abuse of OxyContin and other prescription medications.

        “(This) meeting of the task force brings together professionals ... to coordinate efforts to address abuse of this drug,” Mr. Bellamy said.


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