Ads Heighten Awareness of Painkiller Abuse

In an effort to address the nationwide epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse, particularly among young adults, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York officially launched a community-wide, multi-media awareness campaign. The goal of this initiative-–titled “Painkillers Kill”— is to inform and heighten awareness around this dangerous situation to a greater degree than has occurred before.

“As the area’s leading health insurer, it is our responsibility to make sure our community remains vibrant and healthy,” said David W. Anderson, president and CEO of BlueCross BlueShield of WNY. “We were in a position to make this happen, and we are committed to making sure it does.”

Eric Mower + Associates, agency of record for BlueCross BlueShield of WNY, designed all of the creative for this campaign, which will run in the Western New York market through the end of 2013. It includes billboards, TV and radio spots, as well as print and online ads that drive consumers to the website—www.painkillerskill.com— where they can learn more and join the movement. Click here to watch the 30-second TV spot.

“Research shows that prescription drug misuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in the United States,” said Tom Merrick, senior partner and executive creative director at EMA. “Our team wanted to develop an impactful campaign that would clearly communicate this disturbing message and lead a movement to end this epidemic.”

The campaign was announced at a news conference at SUNY Buffalo State College. Speakers at the event included Avi Israel, a parent who lost his son due to painkiller addiction. Israel is a BCBS member. He approached the provider earlier this year to explain the tragedy of losing his son and urged them to facilitate an initiative that would raise awareness and provide education so that others would not face a similar tragedy.

Dozens of college and high-school students were present at the kick-off event and signed a giant pledge card – an online version is also available – promising not to abuse these highly addictive drugs. The online version can be found at www.facebook.com/PainKillersKill.

The campaign also includes:
• A continuing medical education course for 250 health-care professionals held on Sept. 19;
• The documentary will air multiple times beginning at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 22 on WNED, WKBW, WGRZ, WIVB, and WUTV;
• Education in middle and high schools to include resource and curriculum plans and the viewing of the documentary;
• Information cards distributed at local pharmacies, doctors’ offices and schools;
• Public art projects at various locations, including college campuses, spearheaded by photo artist Max Collins to call attention to the effort
• Promotion of WNY Prescription Drug Drop Off events, including one sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency on Oct. 26. Collection sites are open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. The public can find a nearby collection site by visiting www.dea.gov and clicking on the “Got Drugs?” icon, and following the links to a database where they enter their zip code. Only solid medicines may be turned in.  No liquids, injectables or needles will be accepted.

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