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A bill that aims to curb prescription drug abuse in Kentucky is stirring debate among politicians, physicians and law enforcement officials, The Wall Street Journal reports.

More than 1,000 people die from prescription drug overdoses in the state each year, the article notes.

The state Senate is considering a vote on a bill that would require that all pain clinics be licensed, specify requirements for ownership and employment, and oblige Kentucky’s licensure board to develop regulations for pain clinics. The bill would give law enforcement easier access to the state’s prescription drug monitoring database. Law enforcement officials say the law would help them identify people who are abusing prescription drugs, as well as dealers and doctors who help patients stock supplies of painkillers.

The Kentucky Medical Association opposes the bill, arguing it is a violation of personal privacy. “You are essentially legislating medical care. We think doctors should write those regulations, not legislatures,” said Shawn Jones, the group’s president.

The debate in Kentucky highlights the fact that unlike the supply chain for illicit drugs, those who supply prescription drugs are largely legitimate businesses and professionals. Physician and pharmacy trade groups also have opposed similar legislation in Ohio, West Virginia, Florida and other states, according to the newspaper.

Last month, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear announced the state would sign an agreement to share and receive prescription drug dispensing data with at least 20 other states. The move is designed to help the state monitor prescription drug abuse.

The Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting program (KASPER) will join the National Association of Board of Pharmacy’s Prescription Monitoring Program InterConnect (PMP InterConnect), a system that allows prescription drug abuse information to be shared across state lines.


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