LIVINGSTON COUNTY, KY (3/9/12) – House Speaker Greg Stumbo’s legislation to make it easier to identify and stop prescription drug abuse easily passed the Kentucky House of Representatives on Thursday, March 8, 2012, moving a top priority of his, Governor Beshear’s, Attorney General Jack Conway’s and many others a step closer to becoming law.
“Prescription drug abuse has long been a major problem for Kentucky, but it has gotten significantly worse in recent years,” said Speaker Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg. “What is especially troubling is that most of these drugs are being prescribed right here in the Commonwealth. The one area where we should have the most control is the one area where the ball has been dropped. Today, the House made a statement that this is going to change.”
“House Bill 4 offers a broad range of essential improvements that will allow us to attack the prescription drug epidemic more effectively,” Governor Beshear said. “From enhancements to KASPER to increased scrutiny of pill mills, House Bill 4 will give Kentucky a more muscular response to this scourge.”
“I applaud Kentucky House members for recognizing the importance of enacting sweeping prescription drug legislation during this legislative session,” said Attorney General Jack Conway, whose office would play a much more prominent role if House Bill 4 is enacted. “I am proud to have worked with Speaker Stumbo and Gov. Beshear on this bill to give law enforcement increased access to KASPER data and to keep entrepreneurs out of the pill mill business.”
State Rep. John Tilley, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee and is playing a major role in curbing drug abuse this legislative session, said “House Bill 4 would be a sizeable leap forward in getting prescription drugs out of the hands of those abusing them. It will help us put a stop to one of the key drivers behind the past decade’s prison population growth.”
The hallmark of House Bill 4 is moving the state’s nationally recognized KASPER program – which stands for Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting – from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to the Attorney General’s office. The Attorney General’s Office, the Kentucky State Police and the state’s medical licensure boards would be called upon to work closely together, sharing information related to suspected prescription abuse.
Commonwealth’s Attorneys and County Attorneys would be added to the list of law enforcement officials that could also access KASPER. Medicaid will monitor both prescribers and those enrolled in the Medicaid program, watching for prescription abuse.
Under the bill, all physicians and pharmacists would be required to register with KASPER. According to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, less than a third of prescribers and less than a fourth of pharmacists had accounts as of 2010. Once registered, prescribers will be required to run KASPER reports on all new patients and periodic checks on those they already see.
To help stop the proliferation of pain clinics, Speaker Stumbo’s legislation would require these businesses to be owned by a licensed physician or an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse. Prescribers charged with abusing their prescription privileges would be barred from prescribing medicine, and those found guilty – either here or in another state – would see their prescription privileges stripped.
Speaker Stumbo’s legislation also limits Schedule II and III drugs to 30 day supplies, though prescriptions for these drugs – including such things as OxyContin – could still, in some cases, be written for 90 days.
“Prescription drug abuse has destroyed so many of our families, so the need to stop this as quickly as possible is an absolute necessity,” Speaker Stumbo said. “I stand ready to work with the Senate, Governor Beshear and Attorney General Conway to continue to develop a comprehensive plan that will enable us to achieve this goal.”
House Bill 4 now heads to the Senate for its consideration.
Information provided by Brian Wilkerson
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