Ky. Lawmakers Consider Expanding Access to Rx Drug Tracking System

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The Kentucky Senate is gearing up to vote on a bill (HB 1) that aims to crack down on prescription painkiller misuse by restricting ownership of pain clinics and increasing access to the state's prescription drug tracking database, the Wall Street Journal reports.

About the Database

Kentucky's database includes information about prescribers, recipients and dispensers of certain prescription drugs. The state's Cabinet for Health and Family Services and Board of Medical Licensure currently oversee the database.

Law enforcement officials seeking to obtain information from the database must submit a request to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and prove that the information request is part of an active investigation.

About the Bill

Under the bill, oversight of the prescription tracking database would shift to the state attorney general's office. The change would provide the AG's office and local prosecutors with better access to the prescription drug tracking system, but police officers still would need to submit requests to obtain information from the database.

The proposed legislation also would require physicians to consult the database before prescribing certain painkillers.

Supporters of the Proposal

Supporters say that expanding access to the database would help law enforcement officials better identify people who are misusing prescription drugs, as well as doctors who are helping people obtain large quantities of painkillers.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) said that the proposed legislation is necessary to combat prescription painkiller misuse and overdose deaths.

Opponents of the Proposal

However, opponents of the bill -- such as the Kentucky Medical Association -- argue that expanding access to the prescription drug tracking database could lead to invasions of privacy.

Physicians in the state also said that oversight of the database should remain with medical professionals. They argued that doctors who are worried about law enforcement action might refrain from writing prescriptions for patients who legitimately need painkillers (Martin, Wall Street Journal, 4/19).


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