By RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY
PDT Staff Writer
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear this week signed new legislation designed to reduce the impact of prescription drug abuse on Kentucky families. Upon signing the bill, Beshear warned pill mills to “Get out of this state, because we’re coming after you!”
Sponsored by Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo, House Bill 1, passed on a 68-19 vote in a special session April 20.
“My hope is that, a year from now, we will see that this legislation has truly saved lives and turned many others around,” Stumbo said.
Beshear’s office said the bill includes a broad spectrum of aggressive measures needed to fight the problem of prescription drug abuse.
The measure expands the state’s prescription monitoring system, known as the Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting (KASPER), by requiring all prescription providers to register. It also requires pain management clinics to be owned by a licensed medical practitioner, and requires medical licensure boards to investigate prescribing complaints immediately.
Beshear said the legislation allows better coordination between health regulators and law enforcement to address problems of abuse, and will help prevent Kentucky from becoming a source state for prescription pills.
“This bill is a huge accomplishment that will save Kentuckians’ lives as we battle the scourge of prescription drug abuse, and I applaud the legislature for their bipartisan cooperation in passing this legislation,” Beshear said. “We know the terrifying statistics about how many Kentuckians are affected by prescription drug abuse, but even more unsettling, many of us know someone personally who is battling prescription addiction. House Bill 1 couldn’t get to my desk quickly enough.”
A similar law, House Bill 93, was signed in Ohio by Gov. John Kasich in 2010. According to the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services (ODADAS), nearly 1.5 million fewer opiates were dispensed in Scioto County in 2011 — a decrease of 20 percent.
“What this shows is that when there is a concerted effort in a community we can make a difference. Scioto County has demonstrated that a difference can be made,” ODADAS Director Orman Hall said. “There is a lot more that we need to do statewide and there is a lot more that we need to do in Scioto County. The biggest reduction in our state in the number of dispensed pills in 2011 was in Scioto County. That, I believe, is because of all of the hard work and all of the attention that advocates in Scioto County have brought to bear on this problem.”
Ryan Scott Ottney can reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or email@example.com.