Medical licensure board changing rules to focus more on painkillers; fewer urine tests for patients, fewer reports for doctors

Patients in long-term treatment with controlled substances won’t have to have their urine tested for drugs unless they are on painkillers, and doctors will have wide discretion over how often to do the tests, under new rules being drafted by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure.

That is just one example of the changes that the board is making in regulations authorized by the “pill mill bill” the General Assembly passed this year, reports Mike Wynn of The Courier-Journal. Other changes will put more focus on medicines with the painkiller hydrocodone and exempt some medicines that have only small amounts of painkillers.

“While the bill focused largely on pain pills, the board’s regulations
covered a wider range of medications, including the sleep aid Ambien
and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax,” Wynn notes. “The
regulations also called on doctors to perform a much broader array of
administrative tasks to determine the appropriateness of prescriptions
and a patient’s risk for abuse or diversion.” Now they will have to do less, making follow-up reports to the state drug-tracking system only when prescribing painkillers.

The board’s director, Michael Rodman, told Wynn it is responding to complaints by physicians and lobbying interests who say the the rules are too complex and go too far. The board filed the new rules last month for approval by legislative committees, but says it is already using them to make enforcement decisions. House Speaker Greg Stumbo, who sponsored the bill, has endorsed the changes.

The doctors’ lobby, the Kentucky Medical Association, has voiced its pleasure with the changes but says others are needed, such as parts of the law that require specific medical practices such as standards for prescribing. (Read more)

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