Business Council of Alabama board of directors’ member Denson Henry participated Wednesday in a multi-industry public awareness campaign about the dangers and costs of prescription drug abuse in the workplace, at home, and in society.
Henry, vice president of Henry Brick Co. in Selma, and co-chair of the BCA’s Health Committee, joined others from the medical, law enforcement, and health insurance industries to promote the Smart & Safe Alabama initiative aimed at educating about and encouraging the correct use, storage, and disposal of prescription medication.
Henry said employees who abuse drugs have 300 percent higher medical and benefit costs, are two and a half times more likely to be absent eight days a year or more, are one-third less productive, and have a higher turnover rate.
“Reducing abuse can reduce these ills and increase the bottom line,” Henry said. “We at the BCA member companies encourage and support treatment and prevention solutions that will help employees, co-workers, management, and families.”
The Medical Association of the State of Alabama organized the news conference.
Speakers included Barry Matson, deputy director, Alabama District Attorneys Association and Office of Prosecution Services; Dr. Tom Miller, acting state health officer, Alabama Department of Public Health; Dr. Buddy Smith, president of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama; and, Dr. Darrel Weaver, medical director of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama.
Matson said a dangerous prescription opioid drug that is commonly abused is fentanyl, a heroin-like pain killer that is far more potent than heroin and which can be fatal even in small doses.
Dr. Miller said that 762 Alabamians died from overdose of drugs, including prescription medication, between 2010 and 2014.
Niko Corley, director of legislative and public affairs for the Medical Association of Alabama, announced the campaign’s website – www.SmartAndSafeAL.org. The campaign seeks to build on passage in 2013 of legislation designed to reduce prescription drug abuse and diversion.