President Barack Obama will speak this month at a national drug summit organized by southeast Kentucky’s Operation UNITE, highlighting administration concerns about abuse of prescription drugs and heroin.
UNITE announced Tuesday that Obama would participate in the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit.
“We are honored that President Obama will participate in the important discussion of combating prescription drug abuse and the heroin crisis,” UNITE head Nancy Hale of Rockcastle County said in a news release. “His presence will help focus the nation’s attention on the drug epidemic that is devastating families and communities across the country.”
UNITE organizes the annual summit, to be held March 28 to 31 in Atlanta.
Obama will speak March 29.
The summit is the largest national collaboration of treatment providers, health professionals, advocates, police, government officials and others trying to tackle abuse and diversion of prescription drugs, according to UNITE.
The organization added a focus on heroin this year because of growing problems with the drug.
Dozens of sessions are scheduledand topics will include the work of drug courts, investigating pill mills, improved prescribing guidelines and community responses to heroin.
Other speakers this year include the heads of the federal Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the National Institutes of Health.
U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Somerset, who represents southern and Eastern Kentucky, set up UNITE in 2003 to provide drug investigations, treatment and prevention in the 32-county district.
Rogers has been no fan of Obama on many issues, but he said drug abuse knows no party lines.
“This is a truly nonpartisan issue, as it takes all of us working together to curb the deadly tide of drug abuse in America and inspire real change, from the commander in chief to local police chiefs and treatment professionals, and everyone in between,” Rogers said in a statement. “We’re losing 100 Americans every day to overdoses from prescription drug abuse and heroin, and it’s heartbreaking to know so many are losing a battle that they can win with help.”
More information is available on the summit at Nationalrxdrugabusesummit.org.