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Haley creates group to combat prescription abuse

COLUMBIA (AP) — Gov. Nikki Haley established a 10-member council Friday to develop a statewide plan to combat prescription drug abuse.

Her executive order comes 10 months after an inspector general’s report found prescription painkiller abuse is rampant in South Carolina, but there’s no statewide effort to combat it.

He recommended then that legislators, state officials and the medical community work together, with doctors taking the lead. He described high-prescribers as either motivated by money or naively helping “doctor shoppers.”

Haley’s council includes representatives of state law enforcement, prosecutors, health agencies and regulating boards. Her order directs them to submit an interim report by May 30 and a final report by Oct. 1. Their meetings will be public.

“Finding solutions for drug addiction of any kind is always complicated and takes a real team effort and I thank Inspector General Maley and our partners for their leadership and willingness to help combat this growing problem,” Haley said.

Last month, Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell announced plans to crack down on the illegal possession of prescription drugs and impose tough penalties for prescription drug trafficking. The bill would impose penalties on the number of pills, rather than the weight of the drugs seized.

The measure, introduced Feb. 6 with bi-partisan support, calls for a minimum of 15 years in prison and a fine of $200,000 or more for anyone convicted of illegally having 600 or more prescription pills. It also would make having multiple prescriptions for the same drug evidence of that person’s intent to sell.

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