Stumbo says drug figures show encouraging signs
by Ralph B. Davis
PRESTONSBURG — House Speaker Greg Stumbo says a new report on prescription drug abuse is a hopeful sign that a new “pill mill” law he sponsored last year is having positive impact.
During the 2012 General Assembly, Stumbo was the chief sponsor a bill to tighten regulations on pain treatment clinics and to mandate universal participation by prescribers in the state prescription database. The so-called “pill mill bill” ultimately won approval during a special session immediately following the legislature’s regular session.
On Wednesday, Stumbo pointed to figures recently released by managed-care organization CoventryCares, which shows a 22 percent drop in the supply of the five most commonly abused prescriptions over a three-month period, compared to a similar period prior to the new law’s implementation.
And despite the drop, CoventryCares reported receiving no complaints of members not having access to needed medications.
“While these numbers are only a snapshot of what’s taking place as Kentucky continues to battle pain pills, it’s certainly encouraging to know that there will be fewer pills that could find their way on to Kentucky’s streets and into the hands of those who would abuse them,” Stumbo said. “We are especially pleased to hear that a group helping to administer health care to Kentuckians reports that while usage is down, those who truly need these drugs are receiving them.”
According to the numbers provided by CoventryCares, the supply of Percocet, Vicodin, Oxycontin, Fentanyl and Opana had dropped from more than 1.3 million days worth to just over 1.1 million.
Of the five drugs, Vicodin was the most plentiful, with a 846,219-day supply, compared to a 996,479-day supply in the earlier period, representing a 15 percent drop.
Opana showed the steepest decline, at over 32 percent.
“I understand that one report does not make a trend,” Stumbo said. “However, when it comes to the war against prescription drug abuse, you have to be encouraged by any good news. I’d say an organization reporting a 22 percent drop in commonly abused pills would definitely fall under ‘good news.’”
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