By Mark Potter, NBC News correspondent
The day after we aired a report in May about pain clinics in Florida supplying prescription painkillers to drug addicts and dealers from around the Southeast, I got a call on my cell phone while driving to work at our Miami office.
The caller was Lynn Kissick of Morehead, Kentucky, who saw our report and then took the initiative to reach out to the Broward County Sheriff's Office in Ft. Lauderdale, where we had done much of our reporting. Lynn was determined to find me, and asked if the deputies had my phone number. Because I had left several of my business cards behind, they were able to give it to her.
When the phone rang, I heard a quiet voice on the line ask if I was the man who had done the pain clinics report. When I confirmed it was I, she said, "There's another side to that story. Those pain pills are killing off the younger generation here." She had my full attention.
Sadly, Lynn Kissick and her husband Sam (right, above) know all too well about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. Their 22-year-old daughter, Savannah (below, left), died on New Year's Day from an overdose of oxycodone painkillers and sedatives. A friend, Karen Shay, had also lost her 19-year-old daughter, Sarah, to a lethal mix of methadone and sedatives. Many other families in town, Lynn said, were also struggling with the losses of their loved ones, or with the horrors of addiction.
It didn't take long to confirm that Lynn was right. Coroners, law enforcement officials, drug rehabilitation counselors and other parents all used the word "epidemic" to describe the prescription drug abuse problem. The Kentucky Bureau of Vital Statistics reported that at least 485 people had died there from prescription overdoses last year alone. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said nearly 7-million Americans abuse prescription medication.
In meeting Lynn, Sam and Karen, we found parents who are struggling with devastating personal losses. But we also found them to be fiercely determined to warn others about the dangers of this scourge and to urge officials to crack down harder on the illicit suppliers of prescription drugs.
Tonight's story is their story. That phone call has been answered.