There’s new criticism from Kentucky’s doctors in an analysis of the state’s four-month old prescription drug law, showing that a lot of what state officials have touted as the law’s successes were already in the works before the law went into effect.
The Courier-Journal of Louisville reviewed state records after Gov. Steve Beshear released figures last month that showed the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure had disciplined 33 physicians for violating professional prescription standards. Reporter Mike Wynn writes that he “found that 16 of the cases were resolved before the new law took effect on July 20, and 13 others involved investigations or actions that were well under way before the law’s implementation. The administration also reported last month that 18 of the 44 known pain-management clinics in Kentucky have closed or discontinued pain management services, including 10 after House Bill 1. Still, state records are unclear if all the clinics were suspected of illegal prescribing.”
“They’ve taken a situation that required a scalpel to cut out the disease and instead they have used a machete,” Gregory Hood, governor of the Kentucky chapter of the American College of Physicians, told Wynn.
Beshear’s announcement last month about the bill’s almost overnight success also included crediting it for drops in prescriptions being written for pain killers, most notably for oxymorphone, which had a 38 percent falloff. But, writes Wynn, “Critics of the law say that at least part of those declines are due to doctors denying needed prescriptions to patients because of problems with HB 1.” Experts told the paper that oxymorphone, commonly prescribed as Opana, was not readily available in the market during the applicable period because of a reformulation by its manufacturer.
Kentucky Health News is a service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.