State senator working to pass legislation to regulate "pill mills" in KY

By: Paige Quiggins Email
By: Paige Quiggins Email

State Senate Majority Leader Robert Stivers of Manchester said he is getting bipartisan support to regulate pain clinics in the commonwealth.

Stivers said he wants to crack down on pain management clinics in Kentucky because they are only adding to the drug problem in the region and in the state.

“What you are beginning to see is the fact that the bordering states have all gotten tighter regulations on them so they are all starting to migrate to Kentucky because we are much more lax,” said Stivers.

Stivers said other states such as Georgia and Florida have passed legislation which makes it difficult for the “fly-in” doctors. Stivers said doctors hired by these so called "pill mills" hand out prescriptions without considering alternatives.

“They only come in maybe a couple of days a month, they don't sit there and evaluate you and they don't check and do exams on you, they don't see how flexible you are or how stiff you are,” Stivers said.

Medical professionals say that they go through a checklist to help alleviate symptoms before prescribing narcotics for the problem. Most professionals recommend stretching, exercise, dietary manipulation and even electronic or heat therapy for main management prior to prescription of drugs.

“Narcotic analgesics would always be my very last choice because there are so many side affects, addiction, it doesn't really fix the problem, it only covers up the symptoms,” said James Hall, MSN/APRN, a Nurse Practitioner at Primary Care Center of Hazard.

“The end result is a lot of narcotics are being prescribed, or over prescribed and then being used improperly or diverted and sold,” said Stivers.

Other medical professionals in the Hazard area said that they are not in support of “pill mills” or any other clinics which do not fully evaluate a patient prior to determining treatment.

“Cash for medication operations, are no different than driving up to a pusher on the side of the street and exchanging cash for your drugs,” said Dr. Mitchell Wicker of the Hazard Clinic.

Stivers said this will be at the top of his to-do list during the upcoming General Assembly session.

“There is quite a bit of demand from the public for this to be shut down and that is what we plan to do is shut it down,” said Stivers.

Stivers said he has been working with the governor's office and other senators on this issue. A bill has been pre-filed by Sen. Jim Higdon of Marion County. Stivers said that with an emergency clause, it would take effect immediately if passed.

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