BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Bill Clinton puts the influence of his presidency into reducing the abuse of prescription drugs.

Pat Warren reports Clinton opened a Johns Hopkins University town hall meeting on prescription drug abuse with a disturbing story.

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Former President Bill Clinton described the death of two acquaintances who drank beer and took Oxycontin.

“Both of them were given these pills by their lady friends who were totally ignorant of the biochemistry of what was going on. They just said, `This will give you a buzz,’ and it did. After which they fell asleep and never woke up,” he said.

The Clinton Health Matters Initiative and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health highlighted the consequences of ignorance.

“Neither of them was trained enough in human biology to have any clue that they were about to deaden the portion of their brain that told their body to breathe while it was asleep so they never woke up,” Clinton said.

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The CDC has declared prescription drug abuse an epidemic. Forty-five percent of drug fatalities are attributed to prescription drugs and the National Institute on Drug Abuse says “Because these medications are prescribed by doctors, many assume that they are safe to take under any circumstances.”

The Clinton Foundation is supporting the distribution of medication that can counteract prescription abuse.

“Let’s assume that the FDA approval means there really will be easier, understandable, much more user-friendly ways of getting the medications into the bodies of people who need it before they die,” Clinton said.

Reducing risk and promoting safe use is a top priority.

The Clinton administration promotes global health and wellness.

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