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IN Focus: Feds launch new front in war on drugs

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INDIANAPOLIS (May 26, 2015) – Federal prosecutors are promising to target Indiana doctors and pharmacists who are recklessly prescribing prescription drugs. The policy focus is in response to the state’s HIV epidemic linked to drug use. As of last week, state health officials said 162 people have tested positive for HIV in southern Indiana.

“Really this has caught our attention,” U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler said in an interview with FOX59. “We need to react immediately to this problem.”

Minkler, a federal drug prosecutor for 20 years, took over as U.S. Attorney last year representing the Southern District of Indiana.

“Our resources are to go after the sources, and I think at least my studies have shown, we know where the prescription drugs come from,” he said.

Minkler said that’s doctors and pharmacists writing and filling too many prescriptions, some which end up on the black market, eventually leading to heroin use and now southern Indiana’s HIV epidemic.

Minkler has assigned an assistant U.S. attorney to work solely on the problem in conjunction with three full-time agents at the Drug Enforcement Administration.

An analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found in Indiana 109 painkiller prescriptions written for every 100 people in 2012. The nationwide average was 82 prescriptions.

“I was very surprised,” Minkler said. “I was not aware of the stats that show how often pain killers are prescribed in this state versus the rest of the country.”

Watch the video above to see more of our interview with Minkler, and watch the video below to see our conversation with IndyStar columnist Matt Tully about the growing problem of babies being born addicted to opiates.