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Prescription Painkiller Prescribing Dropped After New Kentucky Law Implemented

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Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear announced this week that the number of doses of opioid painkillers that were prescribed in the state have dropped in the last year, since he signed a new law designed to cut down on prescription drug abuse.

The law 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 requires prescribers to register with the state’s prescription drug monitoring database, and gives law enforcement easier access to it.

Since the law went into effect last summer, 20 pain management clinics not owned by physicians have closed, according to the Associated Press. Thousands of additional medical providers have registered with the state’s prescription drug monitoring program. Rates of prescribing for oxycodone and hydrocodone have dropped, the article notes.

Between August 2012 and May 2013, the number of hydrocodone doses decreased by 9.5 percent, and oxycodone doses dropped by 10.5 percent, according to the governor’s office. Deaths caused by prescription or illicit drugs decreased from 1,023 in 2011, to 1,004 in 2012—the first time such deaths have decreased in a decade.

“The impact of this bill can’t be measured just in the numbers of pills we’ve kept off the streets,” Governor Beshear said in a news release. “This bill, I believe, has literally saved lives in Kentucky.”

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