Flanked by a bipartisan group of legislators, Governor Steve Beshear today signed into law House Bill 217, which makes some practical improvements to last year's landmark prescription drug abuse legislation. The new law clarifies some protocols without diluting the original bill's intent to attack the abuse of prescriptions in the Commonwealth.
"House Bill 1, which passed last year, was a remarkable and comprehensive effort to create real and substantial changes to upend prescription drug abuse, and it's working," said Gov. Beshear. "Unlicensed pain management clinics have closed up shop. Prescriptions for the most addictive drugs have dropped every month since implementation. However, we recognized that a few issues needed to be worked out for the comfort of the most pain-stricken patients and for the practical needs of physicians, particularly in in-patient and long-term care settings. House Bill 217 makes those tweaks without reducing the impact of House Bill 1."
HB 217 was drafted after multiple meetings with stakeholders in the medical community, law enforcement and licensure boards and agencies. The bill includes the following changes:
modifies the diagnostic and treatment protocols for controlled substance prescribing, particularly to accommodate patients with acute pain management needs, such as end-stage cancer care;
allows hospitals and long-term care facilities to have accounts for KASPER, the state's online prescription drug monitoring program;
clarifies the educational requirements for certain pain management facility employees;
clarifies the acceptable qualifications for a physician owner or medical director of a pain management clinic; and
makes the criminal record check required for licensure of persons prescribing or dispensing controlled substances a law, rather than regulation.
"The fight against illegal drug use will always require vigilance, but the work the General Assembly and Gov. Beshear have done over the last year to reduce prescription drug abuse is truly saving lives," House Speaker Greg Stumbo said. "House Bill 217 builds on those efforts while at the same time ensuring that the law and the doctors' own regulations are on the same page. The goal now for this partnership is to see how we can expand access to treatment."
"This reassures people all across the state that we remain committed to the eradication of prescription drug abuse that has caused needless pain and suffering for too many Kentucky families," Senate President Robert Stivers said.
Impacts of HB1
In the last six months since HB1 took effect, total doses of all controlled substances dropped 10.4 percent from the same time period a year earlier. Prescribed doses of some of the most-abused drugs have also fallen:
Hydrocodone: down 11.8 percent;
Oxycodone: down 11.8 percent;
Oxymorphone (Opana): down 45.5 percent; and
Alprazolam (Xanax): down 14.5 percent.
The Office of Inspector General identified 44 facilities as pain management clinics in 2012. Nineteen of them have closed or have discontinued providing pain management services -- including 11 that shut down since HB1's implementation. Another four have received cease and desist letters from the OIG and are in the process of closing.
HB1 expanded the KASPER system, the state's prescription monitoring system, by requiring all prescription providers of controlled substances to register. Since implementation, registered accounts have nearly tripled.
Prior to HB1, KASPER provided less than 3,000 reports daily. Now, providers request approximately 18,000 reports each day. The vast majority of those reports -- 93 percent -- are processed in less than fifteen seconds.