|A man gets arrested at a pain clinic in Lexington.|
(By Charles Bertram, Lexington Herald-Leader)
"Kentucky is ground zero of the effort to move prescription-drug monitoring programs out of the health-care arena into law enforcement," said Even Jenkins, executive director of the West Virginia State Medical Association, a physicians' trade group and a Democratic state senator, told Timothy Martin of The Wall Street Journal.
The doctors won in West Virginia, and they largely won in Kentucky, because the final version of the bill did not move the state's prescription-monitoring system to the attorney general's office from the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the doctor-controlled Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure. But it will require doctors who prescribe painkillers to use the system; only 25 percent do now. For more details on the bill, from Tara Kaprowy of Kentucky Health News, go here.
"The struggle over the Kentucky bill highlights the complicated path policy makers and law enforcement are traversing nationwide in their attempts to fight abuse of prescription painkillers," Martin reports. "Unlike importers and dealers of illicit drugs such as cocaine, the supply chain for prescription drugs is made up largely of legitimate businesses and professionals."
Legislative pushes in Ohio, West Virginia, Florida and other states have been met with fierce opposition from physician and pharmacy lobbies, Martin writes. About 48 states have legislation requiring prescription drug-monitoring programs. That's up by 16 from 10 years ago, but restrictions for who can access the data varies by state, Martin reports. Kentucky law enforcement officials have complained they cannot access the data in time to single out problem prescribers. (Read more)