COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Drug makers should do more to help pay for public service announcements in the fight against prescription painkiller abuse, the White House drug czar said Tuesday during a two-day Ohio summit on the painkiller epidemic.
Gil Kerlikowskie, Office of National Drug Control Policy director, also said that educating doctors about prescribing practices is better than placing quotas on painkiller production.
In recent conversations with dentists, the practitioners said addicts are always pressing for prescriptions, Kerlikowskie said.
"Addicts will figure out ways to get these, so I don't think that the quota in the long run or even the short run is a particularly good answer to reducing the problem," he said.
The drug industry rejected Kerlikowskie's comments about public service spending, saying the major trade association and individual companies have sponsored a number of initiatives to educate people about painkiller abuse.
Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of Oxycontin, a drug implicated in many overdose deaths, has long used public service announcements to educate the public about the dangers of prescription drug abuse, said spokesman James Heins.
Ohio and several other states are struggling to combat the painkiller epidemic, which has resulted in drug overdose deaths surpassing car crashes as the leading cause of accidental death in more than a dozen states.
In another disturbing trend, new research says the number of U.S. babies born with signs of opiate drug withdrawal has tripled in a decade because of a surge in pregnant women's use of legal and illegal narcotics, including Vicodin, OxyContin and heroin.
On Monday, Gov. John Kasich and state health officials announced a plan to limit the prescribing of painkillers by emergency room personnel. National estimates show as many as one in three painkiller prescriptions comes from an emergency room visit.
Kerlikowskie said drug makers have the resources to help pay for public service TV ads, which can be expensive.
"The pharmaceutical industry could be much more of a help in providing support for these essentially public service messages that need to get out," he said.
PHRMA, a trade group that represents several drug companies, has worked on drug education efforts for years, said Sharon Bringner, a PHRMA spokeswoman. Two current initiatives include partnerships with the National Governors Association and Drugfree.org, a drug abuse prevention and treatment advocacy group.
The association works actively with patient and physician groups, police and policy makers to promote safe use of drugs, Bringner said.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached at http://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.