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Donnelly, Brooks seek federal drug task force

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — One day after the governor named a new Drug Task Force, there’s a renewed effort to create a federal task force.

The goal is to address both prescription drug abuse and the heroin epidemic.

According to the DEA, 80 percent of heroin addicts start by abusing prescription pain medications.

Senator Joe Donnelly and Congresswoman Susan Brooks want to attack the problem by convincing doctors to do less prescribing. That was the focus of a round table discussion conducted at IUPUI.

It’s part of the effort by Donnelly and Brooks to win support for a federal task force to look into the prescription writing practices of doctors around the country.

After they meeting, they expressed frustration over a need for more drug education.

“We are not doing enough as a country,” said Brooks. “We’re the number one substance-abusing country in the world.”

“We need to educate patients,” said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams. “We need to change their expectation about what pain management is and is not.”

It comes on the day after the governor held his own round table discussion on drug abuse.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller also leads a task force.

“This is going to take a lot more effort both by the federal government, the state, and our local communities,” said Zoeller, “to address what’s now at this epidemic level.”

Senator Donnelly says it’s not a turf battle.

“We’ll do everything we can to work together with the governor,” he said.

Senator Donnelly filed a bill last year calling for more efforts to fight drug addiction.

It didn’t get a hearing so he filed it again this year while Representative Brooks filed a companion bill in the House.

They are still waiting for committee hearings.