Prescription drug law might be changed in next session of legislature

jbrammer@herald-leader.comJuly 23, 2012 

FRANKFORT — State lawmakers say they are open to suggestions for changes in the controversial new law designed to crack down on Kentucky's increasing problem with prescription drug abuse.

A legislative oversight committee on House Bill 1, which a special legislative session approved this year and Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law, heard Monday from a Lexington emergency room doctor who said the measure and state regulations for it are "overreaching and will restrict access by legitimate citizens to much needed relief of pain and suffering."

Dr. Steven Stack, who works at St. Joseph East in Lexington, said doctors "share the commitments of solving the drug abuse problem," but the legislature needs to make changes in the new law.

A key feature in the law requires the state's tracking of prescriptions to keep tabs on doctors who might be overprescribing them. It calls for use of the Kentucky All-Substance Prescription Electronic Reporting System, or KASPER, to monitor prescriptions issued by a health provider.

Stack contended that an 80-year-old woman who comes to an emergency room with a broken wrist "doesn't need a KASPER report" or extensive counseling on why she is to take pain medicine, as the law now requires.

"There are innumerable examples like this under a law that will require enormous extra work on the health community," said Stack, who said he represented only himself at the meeting.

The committee heard Monday from state officials involved in operating KASPER and representatives of various health boards who discussed emergency regulations they have submitted to the state.

Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, one of six lawmakers on the law's oversight committee, said he expects that the legislature will make changes in the law during the 2013 General Assembly.

Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, co-chairman of the committee, said it's too early to say what changes might be made.

Jack Brammer: (859) 231-1302. Twitter: @BGPolitics. Blog: Bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com.

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