A controversial law to crack down on “pill mills” and the overprescribing of pain medications went into effect Friday, but some in the medical community feared the administration wrote regulations for the bill in excess of what lawmakers intended.
Key features of the bill include tracking prescriptions of powerful painkiller drugs to flag those who might be overprescribing them and stricter licensure of pain clinics. It was a response to the growing epidemic of painkiller addiction in Kentucky and the rise of “pill mills,” especially in eastern Kentucky where some clinics have been raided and shut down.
The bill calls for using the Kentucky All-Substance Prescription Electronic Reporting system, or KASPER, to track Schedule II and III drugs like hydrocodone and other painkillers. But the regulations written by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services appears to expand the types of drugs to be tracked.
One of the regulations posted on the legislature’s website Friday afternoon indicates the law “directs the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to establish an electronic system for monitoring Schedule II, III, IV, and V controlled substances that are dispensed in the Commonwealth by a practitioner or pharmacist or dispensed to an address within the Commonwealth by a pharmacy that has obtained authorization to operate from the Kentucky Board of Pharmacy.”
Schedule II includes stimulants like Ritalin, commonly prescribed for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. Schedule IV includes drugs like Xanax and Valium while Schedule V includes some codeine based cough suppressants.
But Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, says the regulation simply sets up the tracking system but isn’t as expansive as it sounds.
“I don’t think that requires KASPER tracking on all drugs in Schedules II through V,” Tilley said. He said his understanding is the provision applies to “II, III, some selected drugs in IV and no Schedule V drugs.”
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