Covington police chief: New prescription-drug law has unintended consequence of encouraging pain pill addicts to use heroin, commit crimes

Black tar heroin

Kentucky’s new prescription drug law may be having its desired effect of taking prescription painkillers off the streets, but could be forcing those very same addicts into using heroin. That’s the view of Covington Police Chief Spike Jones, who took his case to the state Senate Judiciary Committee last week to complain about increased crime in his area and to ask for some money for help.

The drug law passed in April 2012, designated House Bill 1, requires Kentucky doctors to complete patients’ medical histories, conduct physicals, check photo identifications and run names through the state’s KASPER (Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting) database before prescribing a controlled substance for pain relief. It has required a vast network of oversight of doctors and patients by government and licensing entities. This has reportedly caused some doctors to stop writing those prescriptions completely.

Tiffany Wilson of Cincinnati’s WKRC-TV reports that Chief Jones reports more prostitution, theft, car thefts and car break-ins in his northern Kentucky region. He asked the state legislature for money to research how deep the problem is and to discuss the need for more treatment facilities. 

Jones pointed to the recent closure of the pain management clinic of Dr. Gary Shearer in Florence as adding to the problem. Shearer’s license was suspended following the death of 15 patients from prescription-drug overdoses. These patients, Jones told Wilson, are exactly the ones at risk for taking the next step and turning to heroin. He added that heroin dealers will often give potential customers the first hit for free, “and from that point, there’s no returning to prescription pills.” (Read more)

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