Friday, January 18, 2019

Annual Clement Lecture on prescription drug use

By Caroline Melly ’14

Contributing Writer

This past Wednesday, April 3, the Brotherhood of St. Anthony Hall hosted their annual Clement Lecture featuring Peter Kougasian. The Clement Lecture is a historical lecture named after Martin W. Clement, who graduated in 1901 and was an active Hall member. This year the honorary speaker did a wonderful job at captivating the audience with his intriguing speech on the War on Prescription Drugs. Peter Kougasian is currently a Special Assistant in the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for the City of New York. For 33 years, he has been an Assistant District Attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office, and for 30 of those years he served under legendary District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. Kougasian also served as Director of Legal Staff Training and Senior Counsel and is currently a member of its Conviction Integrity Panel. He is a past Vice President of the New York City Bar Association, and is a former Chair of its Executive Committee. He is currently a Vice Chair of the Committee of the Judiciary of the New York City Bar Association. In his lecture Kougasian touched on the fact that the War on Drugs, which has plagued American cities since the 1970s, is no longer focused on drugs like crack cocaine and marijuana. Addiction to prescription medications is now increasingly a problem. Anyone can seek out an individual with a PhD and get numerous prescriptions written for them. Shortages on certain medication like Adderall have occurred in the past year. Kougasian explained that corrupt doctors, rather than feigning patients, are the real problem. Many doctors do not even have to meet with patients face to face; they merely write prescription and go. Prescriptions like Oxycodone are highly addictive, even if addiction is not prevalent in the patient’s family. When asked what people usually seek out these faulty doctors in search of an Oxycotton prescription, Kougasian responded, “Look around the room, they look like us. It is a scary thought that one could become so hooked on a drug that is easily obtainable.” In the question and answer portion of Clement Lecture, Kougasian was asked if the trafficking rings of these prescription drugs have been extended to other countries. In a terrifying response, he informed the room that not only have these drugs been introduced to the dangerous drug trafficking ring, they are being illegally mass-produced and brought into the United States. It is unfortunate that in our society humans have been infected with prescription drugs that drastically alter their mind and personalities if abused.

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