Ky. loosens restrictions on pain pill law - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ky. loosens restrictions on pain pill law

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Changes to Kentucky's prescription drug abuse law will make it easier for doctors to prescribe pain pills to those who legitimately need them.

This morning, Gov. Steve Beshear signed legislation that loosened the law's restrictions.

Gov. Beshear says this new bill makes needed changes to the pill mill bill without reducing its effectiveness.

It's a rare sight in Frankfort, Democrats and Republicans together in agreement. The occasion;  the signing of HB 217.

It's a bill designed to fix a law passed last year to crack down on prescription drug abuse.

"When you are doing a big comprehensive bill, like the first bill was, you inevitably are going to overlook some things and have a few unintended consequences," said Beshear.

Over the past year. doctors have complained that new regulations requiring them to clear prescriptions for the most abused drugs through the state registry, have buried them in red tape.

The revisions streamline the process for patients in hospitals and nursing homes and for those with terminal diseases.

"This bill is a common sense approach to make sure there's not diversion, that there's not abuse; that individuals who have legitimate problems can be treated in the hospital setting or long-term health care facility and other facilities," said Senate President Robert Stivers, a Republican from Manchester.

The numbers indicate the law is working. The Attorney General says prescriptions for hydrocodone have declined by 205, for Opana by nearly 50%, and nearly half of the 43 pain clinics in Kentucky have closed.

"This bill is working. This bill was working. Nevertheless, we had some concerns and consternations coming from our medical community. We heard those," said Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway.

But is there concern that the changes may create new loopholes for illegitimate pain clinics?

"All this is doing is smoothing out a few of the rough edges. We've got all the tools in place to continue the aggressive approach that we started," said Beshear.

"And I hope that the next step that we take in this battle will be doing something on the education and treatment side. We know how to put them in jail," said House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Democrat from Prestonsburg.

But the big question is; can the cooperation it took to pass this bill be transferred to the biggest issue of this session, pension reform; which is still locked in partisan dispute. At the State Capitol in Frankfort.

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