Supporters hoping for passage of anti-addiction bill as legislature races to finish
HB 330 would increase availability of tamper-resistant pain pills
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A bill that would make it harder to abuse prescription pain killers is running out of time as the Kentucky legislature comes to a frantic finish.
Emergency rooms are seeing a huge increase in drug overdoses, but supporters say passage of House Bill 330 would help reduce the flood.
As an ER doctor, Robert Couch has seen the overdose epidemic up close.
“I've been in practice for over 30 years, and I've never seen drug abuse reach the crisis point that it has,” Couch told WDRB News.
That's why Dr. Couch supports the use of so-called abuse deterrent opioids, or ADOs.
He demonstrates how they work, first using a regular pain pill.
“It's very easy for someone to misuse this medication. So they can simply crush the pill, and turn it into a fine powder that can be snorted, it can be dissolved and injected. It can be easily misused,” said Couch as he pressed down on the pill with a hammer.
ADOs are made to be more difficult to crush or liquify, as Dr. Couch demonstrated using a piece of hard-shelled candy.
“It really doesn't break apart,” Couch said.
ADOs have been approved by the FDA.
The problem is they are more expensive than regular pills, and not covered by health insurance.
HB 330 would change that, with the sponsor saying the cost to insurance companies pales in comparison to the cost of addiction.
“When that issue comes up, I say but what is the cost, the human cost, the loss of productivity, the loss to families,” said Rep. Addia Wuchner (R-Florence.)
The bill passed the House easily, but is still awaiting a vote in the Senate. With just one day left in the session, Wuchner hopes it does not get lost.
“Frankfort is the place of possibilities, and often last moment and last minute possibilities, and I remain hopeful,” said Wuchner.
Still, Dr. Couch warns ADOs are not a cure all.
“It's not the magic bullet. There is no one solution. But it's just something else that will be a tool for physicians to use to try to limit the abuse of these opiate drugs,” he said.
Wuchner says her bill requires insurance companies to cover any one of the different types of ADOs. It's a compromise she hopes will satisfy any remaining opposition.
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