"Pill mill bill" passes special session committee

Lawmakers heard horror stories of what happens when prescription drugs are abused, killing the users, and sometimes even innocent victims.

“And in another case, a mother passed out, the baby rolled out of bed, then suffocated against a baseboard heater, and cooked for several hours, before the mother woke up,” Kenton Co. Commonwealth’s Attorney Rob Sanders told lawmakers in the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday.

That happened in northern Kentucky. Others shared stories of misery in central Kentucky.

“In 15 to 16 months we had 28 people to die in Clark County,” said Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner.

Some believe the problem will be solved if Kentucky’s attorney general takes over monitoring of prescription drugs, called by its acronym, KASPER. But some in the medical community think that gives the office too much power.

“House Bill 1 goes back to what I’d call making the attorney general the drug czar,” said attorney Bill Doll, who represents the Kentucky Medical Association.

Both House and Senate passed their own versions of the pill mill bill…but they couldn’t find a compromise in the waning hours of the 60 day regular session. Their goal is to find common ground in a special session, which some leaders say could be done in 5 days.

Judiciary chair John Tilley says there’s leeway on some points…but you can’t back down on others, including KASPER.

“We know that it works, but it only works if we use it. Physicians have told me that when they began using it, one told me he started using it and noticed problems (with over over-prescribing) he didn’t know existed,” said Rep. Tilley, D-Hopkinsville.

The measure passed with 12 members voting yes, and 3 passing. The full House is expected to vote on the issue Wednesday morning.

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