Governor Steve Beshear met today with the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske to advise him of the multi-pronged efforts underway in Kentucky to battle prescription drug abuse. Gov. Beshear is in Washington, DC for the annual meeting of the National Governors' Association, and Director Kerlikowske requested the afternoon meeting.
"Director Kerlikowske and I know that the only way we can make real progress in eradicating the scourge of prescription drug abuse is by the combined efforts of many agencies, government groups and advocates," said Gov. Beshear. "I appreciate the Director's continued focus on this issue, because prescription drug abuse is eating away at our families and communities not just in Kentucky, but across the country. We're happy to share our methods for tamping down this epidemic, and we are eager to work with federal partners to make more progress."
"I commend Governor Beshear for his aggressive and comprehensive efforts to address the scourge of prescription drug abuse in Kentucky," said Director Kerlikowske. "All of us have a role to play in addressing this threat and I look forward to continuing our partnership to protect the public health and safety of residents of Kentucky."
Director Kerlikowske visited several communities in Kentucky a year ago to learn about local efforts to fight prescription drug abuse, including Kentucky's nationally recognized prescription monitoring program. Today, Gov. Beshear updated the Director on current legislative efforts to strengthen tools for fighting prescription drug abuse in Kentucky.
House Bill 4 (HB 4), sponsored by Speaker Greg Stumbo, would significantly expand the reach of the Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting (KASPER) by requiring all prescription providers to register and use the system. The bill also creates new standards for information sharing among licensure boards and investigators, and requires regular data review of KASPER reports to root out unusually high prescribing rates for further investigation.
Senate Bill 100, sponsored by Sen. Jimmy Higdon, focuses on pain management clinics. The bill would require that these facilities be owned by a physician and properly licensed. SB 42 also creates new rules for who can work at pain management clinics and offers clear regulations related to quality management and inspection.
Education, Interstate Cooperation Efforts Continue
Last fall, Gov. Beshear announced that the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has awarded a $60,000 grant to Operation UNITE, a regional anti-drug initiative in 29 southern and eastern Kentucky counties. The ARC has directed the grant be used to support several educational summits across the state for physicians and dispensers.
Gov. Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway will coordinate the summits that will be held in three locations across the state in the coming months. Operation UNITE, a state drug initiative, expects these summits will train approximately 1,000 health care providers.
Kentucky also hosted the first meeting of a new Interstate Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force this summer. The task force is composed of representatives from Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and Tennessee and includes representatives from government, law enforcement, health care, and advocacy groups. The group is developing ways states can work together to choke off the so-called "pill pipeline" of illegal prescription drugs streaming into those states from the south.