Legislation looks to close Kentucky pill mills

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Kentucky Standard

Landmark News Service

Addressing the prescription drug abuse epidemic occurring here in Kentucky is and will continue to be a daunting task. But the recent announcement that Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, and others are developing legislation that will go a long way in prevention.

The proposed legislation will be aimed at making a clear distinction between legitimate pain clinics and crack down on the fly-by-night "pill mills" that are popping up across Kentucky. Higdon's bill would require licensing for pain-management clinics, ownership of the clinic would have to include at least one licensed doctor and background checks will be done on all owners.

During the last two years "pill mills" have started popping up, not just in eastern Kentucky, but all over the state fueling this epidemic.

So why the sudden increase?

Florida, which has become the nation's "pill capital," has finally started cracking down with tighter regulations causing pill mill operators to flee north into Georgia, Kentucky and the New England states.

While many, including Gov. Steve Beshear, have praised the move Florida has made to "choke off the pipeline" of prescription drugs flowing across the nation, we certainly don't want the illegal operators moving into our state. So the fact that our legislators are taking the necessary steps now is a welcome fight we support to keep them out.

In August, Kentucky took another step in fighting this battle by becoming the first state to link its databases to another state - Ohio - to monitor addicts who were crossing state lines to visit another doctor. Since then, other neighboring states including West Virginia and Tennessee, have joined the effort to create an interstate alliance to make it tougher for dealers, addicts and pill mill operators to jump across state lines.

Prescription pain pill abuse cases have increased dramatically in the state over taking cocaine and marijuana use. In Kentucky more people die of prescription overdoses than car crashes, and we are ranked second in percentage of people 12 and older who abuse prescription painkillers. Once hooked, the pills are readily accessible with too many doctors freely prescribing pain pills instead of looking at other options.

This looks to be a long fight with this widespread epidemic, and we are certainly glad to see Higdon and Kentucky legislatures leading the way in prevention. Let's hope the medical community steps up next, works to police itself and joins the fight to stop this epidemic.