Prescription drug abuse is a growing public health concern.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina M. Benjamin will address the need for major public health initiatives across many fields during the first National Rx Drug Abuse Summit in April.

“The negative impacts of substance abuse span a broad spectrum, including health care costs, public safety, economic development and social services. As ‘America’s Doctor,’ Dr. Benjamin is on the front-line of responding to this crisis,” said Karen Kelly, president/CEO of Operation UNITE (Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment and Education), a Kentucky-based organization coordinating the event.

The Summit, which will be held in Florida April 10-12, 2012, is intended to foster better understanding and cooperation between a broad range of stakeholders – 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.

The National Prevention Strategy recognizes that good health comes not just from receiving quality medical care, but also from healthy homes, safe outdoor spaces, safe worksites, proper nutrition and physical activity.

“Every American family is impacted by prescription medication misuse and diversion. Our youth are especially vulnerable,” Kelly noted. “Dr. Benjamin, who is tasked with implementing prevention strategies, brings an expertise to the Summit that will help identify data-driven policies and solutions.”

Dr. Benjamin, the 18th Surgeon General of the United States, provides the public with the best scientific information available on how to improve their health and the health of the nation. She also oversees the operational command of 6,500 uniformed health officers who serve in locations around the world to promote and protect the health of the American people.

Dr. Benjamin is founder and former CEO of the Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic in Alabama, former associate dean for rural health at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in Mobile, and past chair of the Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States.

She is a member of the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians. She was a Kellogg National Fellow and a Rockefeller Next Generation Leader.

Dr. Benjamin has a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Xavier University, New Orleans; attended Morehouse School of Medicine; received her M.D. from the University of Alabama, Birmingham; and has an MBA from Tulane University. She has 15 honorary doctorates.

Joining Dr. Benjamin 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.

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

• 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.