South Carolinas inspector general is expected to release the states strategy for fighting prescription drug abuse next week at a conference at Winthrop University.
Inspector General Patrick Maley will be the keynote speaker for Tuesdays all-day event coordinated by All On Board, York Countys non-profit group for fighting teen substance abuse.
South Carolina has seen an epidemic of prescription drug abuse, as well as a dramatic increase in the number of methamphetamine labs, officials said Wednesday.
Also scheduled to speak are York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant; York County Coroner Sabrina Gast; 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett; Tiffany Sharpe, an emergency room nurse at Piedmont Medical Center; local pharmacists Krunal and Rakesh Patel of Family Care pharmacy; Shelia Huckabee, associate superintendent of Clover schools; Brenda Dawkins from Keystone Substance Abuse Services, and Max Dorsey of the State Law Enforcement Division.
Bob Norwood, executive director for All On Board, said the conference is timely in light of recent arrests for illegal prescription pill sales at Clover High School and alleged meth labs.
Huckabee said Clover schools will be bringing nurses, administrators, teachers and students to the conference.
She said there has been a significant increase in illegal pill transactions at local schools. About one-half of the transactions are for profit and the other half for free because students believe they are helping a friend, she said.
They believe there is a degree of safety because the drugs have been prescribed by a doctor, Huckabee said. They dont know how people can react differently to drugs. We have to make the pills an illegal drug in their mind.
In separate incidents, York County sheriff deputies recently arrested students at Clover for the sale of Adderall and Ritalin. The two drugs, often prescribed for attention deficit disorder, are among the most commonly abused prescription drugs by high school students, according to research by the University of Michigan and others.
Huckabee said Clover representatives to the conference want to learn more and develop strategies to combat the problem.
The first part of the conference is intended to increase awareness and the second part to develop plans, Norwood said.
Marvin Brown, commander of the multijurisdictional drug enforcement unit, said there have been three arrests for meth labs in the last two weeks. In 2012, the unit made arrests at 29 labs.
Statewide, the number of labs has increased significantly. In 2012, law enforcement found 522 labs, up from 267 the previous year. Norwood said a portion of the conference will discuss proposed state legislation that would require a doctors prescription for the sale of pseudoephedrines, found in over-the-counter cold medications. Pseudoephedrines are a key ingredient in making methamphetamines.
All On Board favors the legislation.
Brown also discussed Operation Medicine Drop, the continuing effort to give York County residents a safe place to dispose of unneeded prescription drugs. Over three years, 1.5 million pills have been safely disposed of, Brown said.
Operation Medicine Drop will have a series of temporary locations on March 16 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to accept prescription drugs:
• Rock Hill Super Bi-Lo, 2186 Cherry Road
• Fort Mill Bi-Lo, 1329 W. SC 160
• York Bi-Lo, 717 E. Liberty St.
• Lake Wylie Bi-Lo, 158 SC 274
• Clover Piggly Wiggly, 136 S. Main St.
Permanent pill drop locations are at York County police departments, the sheriffs office and the Winthrop campus police department.
Don Worthington • 803-329-4066