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posted: 9/30/2013 6:17 PM

Suburban residents join D.C. protest over prescription pain medication

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  • Peter Jackson and his wife, Ellen, of Arlington Heights, hold a picture of their 18-year-old daughter, Emily, who died from complications after taking a prescription OxyContin. Jackson will speak at a rally in Washington D.C. to demand reforms on prescription pain pills.

      Peter Jackson and his wife, Ellen, of Arlington Heights, hold a picture of their 18-year-old daughter, Emily, who died from complications after taking a prescription OxyContin. Jackson will speak at a rally in Washington D.C. to demand reforms on prescription pain pills.
    Daily Herald File Photo by JOE LEWNARD/jlewnard@da

 
 

A handful of suburban residents will join a protest Tuesday in Washington D.C., demanding more be done to combat addiction and overdose deaths resulting from prescription pain pills and heroin.

As many as 1,000 people are expected to join the protest, led by a national group of advocate organizations called the Fed Up! Coalition. The rally at the Capitol will feature a dozen speakers, including Arlington Heights dad Peter Jackson, who heads Advocates for the Reform of Prescription Opioids, and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine professor, Dr. Daniel A. Busch.

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Among the reforms, they seek tougher regulations on prescription pain killers that contain opioids, like OxyContin and Vicodin. They can be highly addictive and can often lead to an addiction to heroin, which is also an opioid drug.

"We have such a terrible heroin problem in the suburbs ... and the only difference between heroin and the prescription opioids is that heroin is illegal. The two issues are inexplicably twisted," said Jackson, whose 18-year-old daughter, Emily, died of complications from taking prescription OxyContin.

Jackson noted the bad timing of their most recent national rallies -- the last one had to be canceled because Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, and this one will happen the day the federal government is expected to shut down (he is a federally employed biologist, and is expecting a furlough as a result).

But Jackson's still encouraged to see the movement gain momentum. Sen. Mark Kirk and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky have offered their support, and the group will soldier on and spread their message.

"We hope to continue this work," Jackson said. "This is such a large undertaking ... but we're getting people's attention. Some of the federal agencies have started paying attention. People are starting to become active."

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