Palm Desert OxyContin Death Leads to New Law
Ryan Creedon was only 21 years old in 2009 when he died from an overdose of OxyContin in Palm Desert. His death led to new legislation around OxyContin.
Ryan Creedon was only 21 years old in 2009 when he died from an overdose of OxyContin, becoming one of the estimated 28,000 people who die each year from prescription drug overdoses. Creedon was not taking the drug for a medical condition, but was part of a growing group of people who become addicted to narcotic prescription drugs that are used to combat chronic pain. His tragic death inspired the Ryan Creedon Act of 2011, a congressional bill that will help educate doctors about the dangers of prescribing OxyContin and other drugs that are subject to abuse.
The Wife of Sonny Bono Mack Weighs In
The bipartisan legislation was put forward by U.S. Representative Mary Bono Mack of California. Rep. Bono Mack of Palm Desert has been in Congress since she was elected to succeed her husband, music legend Sonny Bono, following his death in a skiing accident in 1998. She introduced the bill to help ensure that addictive prescription drugs are only given to people who really need them. According to recent government data, about 7 million teenagers and adults have abused prescription drugs that are obtained on the street without a prescription or with a prescription written by a careless health care provider.
The bill will require health providers who prescribe and dispense controlled drugs to undergo training on the dangers of prescription drug abuse and addiction. This would include doctors, doctor's assistants, dentists and nurse practitioners. Currently, there is no national standard that defines the minimum level of training for health care providers who prescribe addictive drugs. The Ryan Creedon Act would require training to be completed before a health care provider could register with the federal government, a requirement for those who write prescriptions for narcotic drugs like OxyContin.
During a Congressional hearing in April, Rep. Bono Mack described OxyContin as "synthetic heroin." Ryan Creedon's mother also spoke at the hearing, testifying how her son's substance abuse problem began in high school with marijuana and quickly progressed to prescription medications. Kathy Creedon spoke about how difficult it was to watch her son "slowly killing himself." Ryan Creedon had little problem obtaining prescription drugs. His mother testified that the day before he died he visited several doctors in order to obtain multiple prescriptions for OxyContin. The doctors who gave him OxyContin were either unaware of the impact of their actions or didn't care.
The abuse of prescription drugs is part of an alarming trend that is spreading across the nation. It has become the fastest-growing substance abuse problem, involving anti-depressants and stimulants as well as painkillers. The bill named for Ryan Creedon will raise the awareness of doctors and other health care providers about their responsibility for the prescriptions they write and the drugs they distribute. It will also help them recognize the signs of prescription drug addiction.
In a statement on her official website, Rep. Bono Mack states that drug overdose will soon be the leading cause of death in the U.S. and calls on lawmakers to take action. According to Bono Mack, "We need to take steps now to ensure that medical professionals who are devoted to helping and treating us are not unwittingly contributing to a much larger problem."