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Kentucky Officials Announce Study of Prescription Drug Abuse Laws

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Officials in Kentucky will study the effectiveness of new laws designed to reduce prescription drug abuse, The Courier-Journal reports.

The yearlong study will be conducted by the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy’s Institute for Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy. It will be funded through a $100,000 federal grant, the article notes.

Van Ingram, Executive Director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, said his office wants to know whether the laws have unintended consequences. The study will look at use of the state’s prescription drug monitoring program, called KASPER, including prescribing patterns. Researchers will examine prescription-drug-related deaths and emergency room visits, as well as patient behavior and the impact on drug treatment centers. The new study will also include surveys of painkiller prescribers, and will interview licensing boards.

Last year, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear signed into law a bill that requires that all pain clinics be licensed, specifies requirements for ownership and employment, and obliges Kentucky’s licensure board to develop regulations for pain clinics. It gives law enforcement easier access to the state’s prescription drug monitoring database. Doctors have to examine patients, take full medical histories, and check electronic prescription records before writing prescriptions for opioids.

A second measure passed this year exempted some facilities and patients from certain provisions, the article notes.

The researchers are being asked to determine whether the new laws have unintended consequences for patients with pain, and to come up with recommendations for improving the laws. Some critics of the laws say pain patients now have less access to medications. Proponents point to the drop in the number of controlled substances dispensed in the state in 2012, after years of increases.

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