Frankfort – House Speaker Greg Stumbo’s legislation to make it easier for law enforcement to find and stop prescription drug abuse passed the House’s Judiciary Committee Wednesday afternoon.
“This is a major step forward for an initiative that will give law enforcement a significant tool to battle prescription drug abuse,” said Speaker Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg. “I am proud that this bill will now be heard, debated and voted on by the full House of Representatives. I am hopeful it will pass with strong bi-partisan support.”
His House Bill 4 proposes to move 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 new law, 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.
“I have seen first-hand – as a legislator, as a former Attorney General and as a Kentuckian – what prescription drugs can do to an abuser and his or her family,” Speaker Stumbo said. “We are losing so many of our citizens to drug abuse, and it will only get worse if we fail to address the problem. I believe by the end of this session the General Assembly will take a strong stand and enact this landmark legislation that will help us turn this tide of prescription drug abuse. The time to act is now.”