Licensing board needs to step up its game against pain-pill docs, Stumbo says

If the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure doesn’t increase its oversight on doctors who prescribe excessive amounts of pain pills, House Speaker Greg Stumbo said Tuesday he’ll find an agency that will. “If the medical licensure board refuses to do its job, then we will try to find some entity in the enforcement community that wishes to do that,” said Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, right.

In 2003, the licensing board asked to be able to analyze data from the Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting registry — known more commonly as KASPER — so it could identify over-prescribing doctors. That same year, the legislature passed a law “that would allow the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which maintains KASPER, to provide geographical data about prescriptions for controlled substances. The licensing board could use that data to determine whether doctors were overprescribing controlled substances in areas that had high prescription rates,” the Lexington Herald-Leader‘s Beth Musgrave reports.
But the board had not used the data, Stumbo said.
Lloyd Vest II, the licensing board’s general counsel, said the data was not used because it was not specific enough. The cabinet informed the board it did not have the legal right to analyze the data in depth, he added.
Stumbo informed Vest the board is the only agency that had the legal authority to study the information.
Bill Schmidt, the board’s executive director, said the board, which does not receive any government funding, does not have the staff to deal with the data analysis Stumbo is asking for. “The board had five investigators to police nearly 10,000 doctors,” Musgrave reports. Stumbo said the understaffing issue could be solved by raising licensing fees and assessment prices on doctors.
Board members said they will return to committee in December with suggestions for how the state can better police doctors’ prescription practices.

Data show drug overdoses is the leading cause of death for some age groups in Kentucky. Federal statistics show 6.5 percent of Kentuckians have abused prescription drugs. (Read more)
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