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New law to curb prescription drug abuse

The expansion of the KASPER system addresses a critical issue in Kentucky.

At T.J. Samson, doctors work to improve the well-being of not only their patients, but the wider community as well. The expansion of the KASPER (Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting) system is an important step in that direction.

"KASPER deals with the huge problem of prescription drug abuse in Kentucky,” says Bill Edwards, RN, Emergency Center Director at T.J. Samson.

It’s a problem that affects everyone—and KASPER aims to turn it around.

How it works

KASPER is a database that lists prescriptions for controlled medicines statewide. That includes narcotic medicines such as hydrocodone, oxycontin and oxycodone. A law that took effect in July requires pharmacists to report prescriptions for these medicines. That data is then entered into KASPER.

The KASPER law expansion adds a step for doctors. It requires doctors to check the KASPER database before they write an initial prescription for one of the covered medicines.

Other safeguards apply to long-term use of the same medicine. For example, doctors must counsel patients about the risks of taking such medicines over time. They also suggest other ways to ease pain.

According to Edwards, the goal of the KASPER law is very specific.

“The purpose is to reduce the amount of these drugs on the street, especially hydrocodone,” he says.

It does that by preventing people from seeing many doctors to get multiple prescriptions for the same drug. Drugs obtained this way are often then sold
illegally.

The situation in Kentucky was so serious that the governor enacted emergency regulations to get the law in force quickly.

What KASPER means for you

If you have a medical emergency, such as an injury or chest pain, the KASPER law doesn’t apply to your care. People with cancer, in hospice care or in nursing homes also are exempt. So are children under age 18, Edwards says.

In fact, no one with a legitimate need for one of these medicines will be denied.

“We don’t want people to worry that they won’t get the medicines they need,” Edwards says.

You can learn more about KASPER at www.chfs.ky.gov.
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