Kentucky leaders join forces to push bill fighting pill abuse

Crystal Copley used to work as a nurse….and saw the harmful effects of prescription drug abuse.

“I have lots of friends who have died from this,” she said Monday at a news conference in the capitol.

She herself in pain from lifting heavy patients, found ways to get more than she needed.

“People like me…liked to take them illegally, (and) were very good at manipulating the system,” said Copley.

That’s behind the push to target doctors pushing too many pain pills, and legislation to tighten restrictions on the drug monitoring program called KASPER.

“Some 82 Kentuckians a month are dying from drug overdoses,” said Beshear, who added that passing the legislation is among his highest priorities for the 2012 session.

Since the start of the session there’s been a lot of issues that have divided lawmakers right now the partisan political line, but on Monday lawmakers stood side by side, saying this is an issue everyone can agree on.

“I stand here pledging my support and all I can do in the Senate at whatever cost it may come to me personally or politically to see this scourge taken out of our state,” said Sen. Robert Stivers, R-Manchester.

Two bills have been filed with new regulations targeting pain management clinics and doctors who over-prescribe. One was filed by Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo in the House. Senator Jimmy Higdon, a Republican, has filed a similar bill in the Senate.

“We’re not able to say who are the largest prescribers in this region, or who is the largest there, but this law changes that,” said Attorney General Jack Conway.

Copley says she was 23 when she started abusing drugs…and didn’t stop until 13 months ago. The problem was that she didn’t have trouble getting her pain pills.

“If I didn’t get what I needed from one (doctor)..I’d go to another one,” she said.

The legislation is House Bill 4 and Senate Bill 42.

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