NORFOLK, Va. (WAVE) — On Tuesday, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miares announced the launch of his new initiative to combat the opioid crisis.
“One pill can killThe initiative hopes to increase public awareness of counterfeit drugs, opioids and fentanyl. Miyares was in Norfolk on Tuesday with Virginia First Lady Suzanne Youngkin to launch the initiative.
One Pill Can Kill aims to spark open conversations among families about counterfeit drugs and fentanyl.
“One pill can take a life. One pill can rob you of your dreams. One pill can prevent your family from ever seeing you again [and] there was never a normal rest because you had your life taken too soon, Miyares said.
Miyares recently joined 44 other attorneys general in urging the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services to permanently expand telemedicine flexibility to prescribe buprenorphine, a treatment for opioid use disorders.
During a news conference, the attorney general said that four Virginians die every day as a result of drug abuse and more 105 thousand Americans died of overdoses across the country.
In Virginia, the leading cause of unnatural death is drug overdose and has been since 2013. Opioids — specifically fentanyl — have been the driving force behind the big increase. In 2021, fentanyl accounted for 76.4% of all overdose deaths in Virginia.
“Fentanyl kills people unexpectedly. It poisons them. This shuts down their brains so they can’t breathe. That’s something we need to start talking about,” Youngkin said.
The press conference was followed by a roundtable discussion with community leaders and behavioral health professionals on how Virginia can effectively reduce opioid and counterfeit drug deaths.
“In Virginia Beach, that was a problem for us. We can no longer cower. We must face it head on. We have to change hearts and minds,” said Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer.
10 On Your Side asked Miares if the One Pill Can Kill initiative is similar to President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy’s Just Say No campaign in the 1980s. The aggressive crackdown on drugs has led to the mass incarceration of black and brown people.
“It has a message: stay away, don’t put it in your body. This will have disastrous consequences. But we try to follow a holistic approach.”
He wants state lawmakers to allow police to charge drug dealers with murder if the drugs lead to an overdose.
“If you’re dealing with fentanyl that leads to overdoses, you’re going to kill somebody and we’re going to prosecute you in Virginia. We do not currently have this tool. I hope they will give it to us..”
Local news stations, including WAVY-TV 10, will air the PSA commercial for the next 60 days.