Governor Steve Beshear today issued an Executive Order creating an advisory council of doctors, pharmacists, nurses and law enforcement to recommend guidelines for determining irregular prescribing habits through the state's prescription drug monitoring system.
The council will work with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which administers the state's drug monitoring program, Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting (KASPER). The council's recommendations will better enable KASPER administrators to flag unusual prescribing habits and submit them to the appropriate medical licensure board for further review or criminal investigation.
Gov. Beshear said KASPER has been an excellent tool for tracking prescription drugs, but the advisory group will fill a gap in the program's effectiveness in targeting doctors who are participating in criminal activity.
"Fifty prescriptions for oxycodone per month might be legitimate for an oncologist but possibly disproportionate for a dentist," said Gov. Beshear. "By using guidelines for what kind of prescriptions are routine and which appear to be excessive, we can make real progress in rooting out doctors who have turned into drug pushers, and investigate them accordingly."
The advisory board of physicians, dentists, nurses, and pharmacists will work with KASPER officials and law enforcement professionals to create guidelines for generally accepted practices among different medical disciplines. These criteria will be used to guide when a prescriber or dispenser's KASPER reports may be flagged for unusual prescribing activity.
Under the new process, those reports will be submitted to the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure (KBML), Kentucky Board of Dentistry (KBD), Kentucky Board of Nursing (KBN) or Kentucky Board of Pharmacists (KBP), which may conduct further internal reviews or submit the report to Kentucky State Police or the Attorney General for investigation.
Gov. Beshear joined Attorney General Jack Conway and House of Representatives Speaker Greg Stumbo last week to announce the changes to KASPER, as well as other initiatives to fight prescription drug abuse.
"I appreciate Gov. Beshear's leadership in creating this group that will help improve our KASPER system, help track the illegal diversion of prescription drugs, and improve the flow of information to healthcare providers and law enforcement," said Attorney General Conway.
"I want to thank Gov. Beshear for stepping up to the plate and addressing this issue. He understands that the legislature designed KASPER to be used proactively to control the epidemic of prescription drug abuse," said Speaker Stumbo. "The licensing boards have failed to police their own professions, but I promise Kentucky's citizens that we will continue to make every effort to either run drug dealing doctors out of this state or put them in jail."
The medical licensure boards will send the Governor a list of nominees for the slots on the advisory council, and the Governor will name the full council within the next few weeks.
A recent report from the Kentucky Department for Public Health says more Kentuckians are dying as a result of drug overdoses than those who have died from injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents. The rate of drug-induced deaths has steadily risen from 2005 to 2009, while the number of motor vehicle deaths continues to decline.
Gov. Beshear, Attorney General Conway and Speaker Stumbo have announced plans to hold multiple education summits on prescription drug abuse for medical professionals throughout the state. The leaders will also support legislation in the upcoming General Assembly to regulate and license pain clinics and to require use of KASPER among all medical professionals who can write prescriptions.