|April 24, 2012
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla.–Today Attorney General Pam Bondi convened the first meeting of the Statewide Task Force on Prescription Drug Abuse and Newborns. Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, participated in the meeting as a special guest. The Task Force was created to examine the scope of the problem of prescription drug abuse by expectant mothers, the costs associated with caring for babies with neonatal withdrawal syndrome, the long-term effects of the syndrome, and prevention strategies.
“Today was a major step forward in protecting newborns from prescription drug abuse. We have assembled a task force of dedicated people who will fully assess the prevalence of this problem and develop prevention strategies,” stated Attorney General Pam Bondi. "Florida's task force could become a prototype for how to approach this national problem."
"Our Nation's prescription drug abuse epidemic has taken too many lives and harms too many Americans. I commend Attorney General Bondi and other officials working on this important issue for their efforts to protect public health and safety in Florida. All of us can take steps to address this challenge and this new task force serves as part of a comprehensive approach to reducing the prescription drug abuse threat in America,” stated Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske.
Neonatal withdrawal syndrome occurs in a newborn that has been exposed to addictive drugs while in the womb. Symptoms of withdrawal include: fever, seizures, blotchy skin, incessant shrill cries, respiratory problems, and extreme sensitivity to sounds and light.
Members discussed the need to gather data concerning the problem, to better understand the costs associated with it, and to explore local programs that provide assistance to mothers who abuse prescription drugs and newborns with neonatal withdrawal syndrome.
Members of the task force include:
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi
State Surgeon General Dr. Steven L. Harris
Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald M. Bailey
Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Elizabeth Dudak
Department of Children & Families Secretary David Wilkins
Dr. Stephanie Haridopolos
March of Dimes Assistant State Director Keith Nash
Dr. Robert Yelverton
Pediatrix Medical Group Medical Director Dr. Kenneth Solomon
Florida Nurses Association Executive Director Willa Fuller
Dr. David Dixon
Senator Joe Negron
Representative Dana Young
BayCare Behavioral Health Executive Director Doug Leonardo
Healthy Start Executive Director Jane Murphy