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Officials Say Prescription Drug Pipeline from Florida to Kentucky Starting to Close Off

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The pipeline of prescription painkillers from Florida to Kentucky has started to close off, the attorneys general of both states announced this week. They attributed the slowdown in illegal pill trafficking to new rules and programs in Florida, coupled with increased enforcement in both states.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway said more still needs to be done to fight prescription drug abuse in his state, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports. He anticipates that state lawmakers will introduce a measure next week designed to reduce illegal use of prescription drugs. The bill would require health care providers who prescribe certain controlled substance to register with Kentucky’s prescription monitoring system. Emergency rooms would need to get a report from the system before dispensing certain medications, which would show whether a patient has received pills from other doctors.

According to the newspaper, in the past van loads of people routinely traveled to Florida from Kentucky to buy pain pills at storefront clinics. They would pay with cash, and received the pills after little or no examination. In 2010, an estimated 60 percent of pills sold on the black market in Kentucky came from Florida, Conway said at a conference on substance abuse.

Last summer, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law a bill designed to cut down on prescription drug abuse by controlling “pill mills” in the state. The law authorized the creation of a prescription-drug monitoring database to reduce doctor-shopping by people looking to collect multiple painkiller prescriptions. The legislation also imposed new penalties for physicians who overprescribe medication and imposed stricter rules for operating pharmacies.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said the state has seen significant results. She noted that two years ago, 98 of the top 100 U.S. prescribers of oxycodone were in Florida; that number is now 11. The number of registered pain clinics in Florida has dropped from 943 to 579, she said.

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