Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Opinion

July 10, 2014

OUR VIEW: Waiting to learn if Kentucky’s steps will loosen painkillers’ grip

GLASGOW — The recent restriction of a Cave City physician’s medical license following an investigation into allegations of improper distribution of prescription medication is a sobering reminder of Kentucky’s dangerous dalliance with powerful painkillers.

According to information in the agreed order filed with the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure this month that indefinitely prohibits Chandra M. Reddy from prescribing controlled substances, the doctor – who specializes in internal medicine – was, for a time, predominantly seeing patients seeking pain-management services.

It’s hardly a surprise that some in the area are after easy, under-the-table access to pain meds. Prescription opiates have a particularly tight grip on some demographics in the South, according to a report issued this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Kentucky, in fact, tied for fourth nationally in 2012 for the number of painkiller prescriptions per 100 people at 128. Alabama was first at 143.

The CDC says 46 people die each day in the United States due to overdoses of prescription painkillers, and the organization says there is a direct correlation between the frequency of a state’s painkiller overdoses and its number of prescriptions.

Kentucky has taken steps to address its problem. In early 2012, the General Assembly approved House Bill 1, which tightened regulations on pain clinics and intensified efforts to combat prescription medication abuse. The new requirements began being implemented during the same year that provided data for the CDC report, so the effectiveness of the legislation will become clearer in future statistics.

We’re hopeful these numbers will improve, and that Kentucky soon begins moving past this sobering chapter in our state’s history.

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