The nation’s top official in the war on drugs will be a keynote presenter at the first National Rx Drug Abuse Summit next April.

R. Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), has identified prescription drug abuse as a top priority for public health in the United States.

“Mr. Kerlikowske is very aware of the devastating impacts of prescription drug abuse and diversion,” said Karen Kelly, president/CEO of Operation UNITE (Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment and Education), a Kentucky-based organization coordinating the event. “The Prevention Plan unveiled last year by the ONDCP recognizes the need to take a balanced approach between education, monitoring, proper disposal and enforcement efforts.”

The Summit, which will be held in Florida April 10-12, 2012, is intended to foster better understanding and cooperation between all groups – state and national leaders, law enforcement officials, medical professionals, community advocates, treatment experts, educators, private industry leaders, and others – who are finding success in battling this nationwide epidemic.

“Diversion of prescription medications from their legitimate medical uses impacts every American, not only through the devastating personal toll exacted on individuals and their families, but on an economic level as well,” Kelly stated. “This Summit encourages proactive dialogue with national experts to identify data-driven policies and solutions.”

Prior to his confirmation, Kerlikowske served as deputy director for the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, and was police commissioner of Buffalo, New York. Most of his law enforcement career was served in the St. Petersburg Police Department in Florida.

He was twice elected to be president of the Major Cities Chiefs, which is comprised of the largest city and county law enforcement agencies in the United States and Canada, and was also elected president of the Police Executive Research Forum.

In 2011, Kerlikowske received the American Medical Association’s Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Government Service.

Joining Kerlikowske as a keynote presenter during the Summit will be:

• Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health, one of the nation’s foremost experts on the neurological effects of drug addiction.

• Hon. Joseph T. Rannazzisi, deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Diversion Control in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), an expert in preventing, detecting and investigating the diversion of controlled pharmaceuticals.