Herald-Leader: Beshear, Conway and Stumbo announce plans to battle prescription drug abuse


October 6, 2011

Beshear, Conway and Stumbo announce plans to battle prescription drug abuse

Gov. Steve Beshear

Herald-Leader Staff Report

Gov. Steve Beshear, Attorney General Jack Conway and House Speaker Greg Stumboannounced several initiatives on Thursday aimed at curbing prescription drug abuse.

The three men, who have each served as attorney general, said the initiatives would make it easier to report suspicious prescribing habits to licensure boards for possible investigation. They also proposed educating more health care providers about using the state’s prescription monitoring system.

The trio of Democrats said they want to develop legislation for the 2012 General Assembly, which begins in January, to expand use of the monitoring program and to regulate pain clinics.

Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for some age groups in Kentucky, where 16.1 percent of adults ages 18 to 25 have used prescription drugs for non-prescribed purposes, according to federal drug-abuse statistics.

Data show that 6.5 percent of all Kentuckians have abused prescription drugs, compared to the national average of 5 percent.

Beshear also said the federal Appalachian Regional Commission has awarded a $60,000 grant to Operation UNITE, an anti-drug program in 20 southern and eastern Kentucky counties, to support several educational summits for doctors and dispensers to learn about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and the benefits of the state’s drug monitoring system known as KASPER, or the Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting.

Beshear and Conway, who face re-election on Nov. 8, will coordinate the summits, which will be held in three locations across the state in coming months. Operation UNITE expects the summits will train about 1,000 health care providers.

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