Sen. Rob Portman was in Portsmouth on Saturday afternoon to meet with members of the Scioto County Prescription Drug Action Team to hear about the prescription drug problems facing the area. "We have met with some great community leaders here today. Southern Ohio has become the epicenter of this epidemic. Scioto County is being poisoned by OxyContin and increasingly heroin. Today, I had a great opportunity to get input from folks here locally who have been working on this issue for years," Portman said. Portman said his office will be aiding the action team, in helping them obtain federal assistance. The Action Team has applied for a Drug Free Communities Grant under the Drug Free Communities Act of 1997, drug prevention legislation authored by then-Congressman Portman and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. Scioto County needs the help, and needs it now, Portman said. "We've been struggling on our own for a long time, over the past year and a half we've seen the community, for the first time come together and rise up. We've seen everyone pull together and demand change," said Lisa Roberts, Public Health Nurse of the Portsmouth Health Department. State Rep. Dave Burke (R-Marysville) co-author of House Bill 93 along with Dr. Terry Johnson and Danny Bubp (R-West Union) that calls for the regulation of pain clinics throughout Ohio, was also in attendance. "We worked on House Bill 93 known as the pill mill bill, that passed successfully through the Ohio House 97-0. The bill should be voted out of committee in the Senate next week and voted off the Senate floor and onto the governor's desk the following week," Burke said. "We can look for this bill to become law before the end of May." Portman said his office is going to focus on four areas to address prescription drug abuse in the Portsmouth area and throughout Ohio. That includes assistance with the Drug Free Communities Grant, an idea of getting more federal law enforcement coordination and some resources. "There is an effort to look at a national registry for prescriptions so instead of just having state registries, you would have a national database to see if someone had already gotten a prescription," Portman said. "There is an interest in some of the treatment folks in helping to access some of the federal dollars."
WAYNE ALLEN may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 208, or firstname.lastname@example.org.