MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A top medical professional in West Virginia says doctors and pharmaceutical companies share a “majority of the responsibility” for the proliferation of painkillers across the country that has contributed to the nation’s drug epidemic.

Dr. Clay Marsh


Dr. Clay Marsh

Clay Mars, WVU vice president and executive dean for health sciences, made the comment Thursday on MetroNews “Talkline” a day after President Barack Obama’s visit to Charleston to address the drug issue.

Obama claimed that in 2012 some 259 million prescriptions were written for pain medications. That’s enough to give every American adult a bottle of pills.

Doctors need to do a better job policing themselves when it comes to repeatedly writing out refills for prescription drugs, according to Marsh.

“(So that) people that are misusing that public trust are not able to prescribe anymore and we need to set up checkpoints in the system that says if people are on narcotics for a long period of time that somebody is looking at that and looking for alternatives,” Marsh said.

Marsh agrees with President Obama that limits need to be set along with increased education about the dangers of the drugs. WVU’s School of Pharmacy already has a program that requires pre-approval if a patient is on narcotics for more than three months.

Ultimately, getting a hand on the prescription drug problem comes down to prevention efforts, Marsh said.

“I believe that part of what we need to do is identify the really high-risk communities and people before they get started (abusing drugs) and very much proactively start to intervene to give them support and counsel and guidance so they don’t start,” Marsh said.

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