To implement law aimed at prescription drug abuse, licensing boards issue regulations that some say are too expansive

Ambien and Ritalin are among the drugs that will be tracked through the state’s drug monitoring system, with medical licensure boards issuing emergency regulations that are more expansive than originally required in a law aimed at curbing prescription drug abuse and so-called pill mills.

Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, said “there’s an honest debate” about why the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the boards wish to track all Schedule II and III drugs and 15 more Schedule IV drugs. “The statute only called for tracking Schedule II drugs and those Schedule III drugs that contain hydrocodone,” reports Ronnie Ellis for Community Newspaper Holdings Inc.

Among the 15 listed Schedule IV drugs are Ambien, Valium, Librium, anorexic drugs and Soma. Ritalin, usually used to help with Attention Deficit Disorder, is a Schedule II drug and will be tracked for patients who are prescribed it for more than 30 days. Lloyd Vest, the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure‘s general counsel, said some parents “doctor shop” to get the drug. The new regulations have prompted “some prescribers to cease prescribing the drug, causing parents and children to scramble for prescriptions before school begins next month,” Ellis reports.

Dr. Steven Sack, an emergency room doctor from St. Joseph East in Lexington, said the regulations “have gone well beyond the initial intent” of the legislation and will “result in unnecessary suffering in the commonwealth with patients not getting the care they need.”

He said running a report in the drug-monitoring system known as KASPER takes an “enormous” amount of time. He asked why doctors must run reports on, say, an 80-year-old with chronic pain. Ellis reports the average KASPER report can be electronically transmitted in 15 seconds, and Tilley said running a report might “prevent prescriptions which might adversely interact with other medication the patient is taking.”

Changes can be made to the regulations before the September deadline and they can be revised in the 2013 General Assembly. Physicians had until last week to sign up for a KASPER account. As of last Friday, there were 17,048 master accounts. In 2011, there were just 879.  (Read more)

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