Though a state bill aimed at quashing "pill mills" by proactively tracking drug prescriptions has so far failed to pass in the Kentucky General Assembly, Republican U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers of Eastern Kentucky's 5th District has joined a federal effort to allow state prescription drug tracking systems to share information. Though 48 states have such systems, there is no way for them to communicate with each other.
On Thursday, federal lawmakers introduced legislation "that would establish technical standards and security and encryption procedures to ease sharing information," James R. Carroll reports for The Courier-Journal.
"While my region of Southern and Eastern Kentucky became ground zero for the abuse of prescription drugs a decade ago, it is now wreaking havoc on communities small and large and cutting across socioeconomic and gender lines," Rogers said in a statement.
About 1,000 people in Kentucky died last year from prescription drug abuse, though the real number is suspected to be higher, due to under-reporting.
Missouri and New Hampshire are the only states that do not have, or don't have plans to set up, a drug-monitoring system that allows "doctors, pharmacists and law enforcement to share information that may identify abuse and misuse of pharmaceuticals," Carroll reports.
"It is high time we get these systems linked up to eliminate the interstate doctor-shopping which has been fueling the pill pipeline around our country," Rogers said.
The proposal would not create a new national database, but would also states to communicate with each other through data hubs already in place. The bill is expected to get the support of the White House administration, Carroll reports. (Read more)
Last week, Gov. Steve Beshear said Kentucky would sign an agreement to share and receive prescription drug dispensing data with at least 20 other states. "The blight of prescription drug abuse is tearing our families and communities apart, and we must use every tool available to attack this deadly scourge on our state," he said. "One of our key strategies is sharing information with surrounding states, so that we can not only cut off access to abusers, but also identify the problem prescribers." (Read more)