Prescription drug abuse forums begin Monday

The first of five public events to discuss prescription drug abuse in Eastern Kentucky, announced after the death of Dr. Dennis Sandlin in December, is set for 5 p.m. Monday at the Perry County Public Library in Hazard.

A man police say was seeking pain pills is charged with shooting Sandlin at his clinic in Cornettsville in Perry County after he was asked to take a urine test.

The forums, town hall-style meetings where the public will be able to speak, will include discussions on the growing problem with abuse of prescription drugs, improving the safety of healthcare providers and ways to expand drug treatment and prevention.

Venues aren't confirmed yet, but the following forums will be Jan. 25 in Pikeville, Feb. 8 in Pineville and Feb. 22 in Morehead, according to a press release from the governor's office.

The four town-hall forums are intended to solicit public input and opinions for a medical symposium on March 6, said Valeria Cummings, spokeswoman for the lieutenant governor's office.

Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo, who is a doctor who practices in Perry County and a candidate for the U.S. Senate, announced the forums last month. They will be attended by representatives from Operation UNITE, the state Office of Drug Control Policy, state lawmakers, doctors and groups representing hospitals and pharmacists, and Sandlin's daughter, Danielle Sandlin, the lieutenant governor's office said.