Gov. Steve Beshear today testified before a congressional panel on the prescription drug abuse issues facing Kentucky and our nation.
During his testimony, Gov. Beshear urged Congress to continue providing resources to the Harold Rogers Prescription Drug Monitoring Grant Program. The Governor also proposed mandatory training for those who prescribe controlled substances and requested that more federal resources be focused on ceasing Florida's illegal prescription drug flow.
"The fastest growing, most prolific substance abuse issue facing our country is the abuse and diversion of prescription drugs," said Gov. Beshear. "In Kentucky alone, 82 people die every month from drug overdoses, a number that has now surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of accidental death in our state. Since faced with this horrific epidemic, Kentucky has acted aggressively in ramping up law enforcement, policy initiatives and prescription drug monitoring efforts."
The Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting System (KASPER) tracks controlled substance prescriptions dispensed within the state, helping health care providers ensure a person does not get prescriptions from several different sources, while also helping police investigate the diversion of pills to illegal sales. In 2006, the White House recognized KASPER as one of the nation's flagship prescription drug monitoring programs.
"KASPER has proven successful in Kentucky's battle against prescription drug abuse," stated Gov. Beshear. "However, the full effectiveness of this powerful weapon is limited by the fact that some states still do not have similar systems."
Florida, and especially South Florida, represents a significant population of unmonitored controlled prescription drug pain clinics and prescribers. In February 2011, Gov. Beshear sent a letter to Florida Gov. Rick Scott urging him to reconsider his decision to not implement a state drug monitoring system previously approved by the Florida legislature. Recent news reports confirm that, at least in part due to outside persuasion, the drug monitoring project is moving forward and will be operational later this year.
Gov. Beshear testified Thursday on the significance of providing resources to the Harold Rogers Prescription Drug Monitoring Grant Program to continue the critical work toward data sharing among states. He also presented evidence for the need to mandate training for prescribers of controlled substances so they can bring awareness to patients on the disease of addiction.
Finally, Gov. Beshear stressed the importance of increasing resources to federal, state and local law enforcement and prosecutors in Florida to address the threat that drugs obtained there will be diverted and abused on a regional scale.
"Kentucky is not an island," said Gov. Beshear. "We live in a mobile society and that mobility limits the ability of any one state to be entirely successful in addressing substance abuse issues. My testimony today calls on several strategies that have a higher probability of success when implemented on a national level."