Debate expected next week for bill aimed at restricting prescrip - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Debate expected next week for bill aimed at restricting prescription painkillers in Kentucky

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A bill providing tougher restrictions on painkillers and tougher penalties for drug traffickers is expected to be debated on the Kentucky House floor next week.

These are the core ideas for House Bill 333:

  • Aligning the state and federal guidelines on rescheduling substances
  • Allowing hemp-derived products, like CBD oils, to be sold in Kentucky if approved by the FDA
  • Elevating penalties for anyone trafficking fentanyl, carfentanil, or fentanyl derivatives
  • Lowering sentences for trafficking when the person has a substance disorder
  • Limiting prescriptions for Schedule II controlled substances for acute pain to a three-day supply

The bill favorably passed its committee on Wednesday. During the hearing, Gov. Matt Bevin spoke in favor of the tougher regulations.

“This is something that Kentucky has a chance to lead on,” Gov. Bevin said. “I think we have a moral obligation to our own people.”

Representative Kimberly Moser, one of the bill’s sponsors, said the bill aims at getting the drugs fentanyl and carfentanil off the street and out of the hands of traffickers. A first-time offense would now be considered a Class C Felony and a second offense would be considered a Class B Felony under the new bill.

Moser clarified the tougher penalties would not apply to those pedaling less than two grams, because they are typically users and need therapy not jail time, she said.

Many people have already expressed concern over part of the bill that requires a three-day limit on pain pill prescriptions. HB 333 would prohibit doctors from issuing a prescription for more than a three-day supply of Schedule II prescription drugs, like OxyContin, to treat acute pain. There would be exemptions for those in cancer treatment, chronic pain or hospice.

Moser said there would be documentation required for those exemptions, but it would not equal anything more than what they already do. Lawmakers are not trying to create more work for doctors, she said.

Moser added the intention is not to limit what physicians can prescribe, as long as it’s necessary. She said this bill would put Kentucky law in line with the CDC guidelines. The bill’s sponsor said this is a case-by-case basis and meant to open up dialogue between doctors and patients.

“We have an opioid problem in the state and need to push the pause button and see if this is medically necessary,” Moser said. “And this will help reset patient expectations, too.”

If you have an injury, you might not need the highest dose, Moser said. There are drugs that are less dangerous and addictive that should be considered more often, she added.

However, some patients are concerned the bill will just make it more difficult for those who need pain medication to get it. One Louisville mother, who wished to remain anonymous, said it is already very complicated for her to get the pain medication she needs for her multiple conditions, including fibromyalgia.

She said she currently has to complete drug tests and questionnaires in order to be allowed to fill certain prescriptions.

"It's not all about the people that are overdosing,” she said. “It's not all about the people out there just taking this ... to get high. I mean, there are people out there trying to live a normal life."

She has been living with chronic pain for about 15 years. She said people who take painkillers for medical reasons do not get high. In fact, she said, many times the painkillers never relieve all the pain, but are necessary for a stable quality of life.

“I just feel like for the people that actually have problems, this is a humiliation," she said. "You’re getting judged. And then you’re almost scared you’re not going to get help anymore.”

She said she hopes lawmakers will talks to doctors and patients before debating the bill next week. The mother feels like those abusing drugs are forcing others who obey the law to live a more painful life.

“I understand there’s an epidemic going on,” she said. “But there’s also real people with real problems. And if they continue doing what they’re doing ... how are we going to live?”

Moser emphasized this bill would not make every person go back for a prescription refill every three days. She said her office is working on creating a list of important talking points for all lawmakers to understand ahead of the bill being debated next week.

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