Four States Combine to Fight Prescription Drug Abuse

by Devin Katayama on August 25, 2011

Kentucky is collaborating with three other states to form the Interstate Prescription Drug Task Force, which will attempt to stop prescription drug abuse. Soon, doctors will be able to request data across state lines to monitor patient prescriptions.

Ohio and Kentucky announced earlier this month that they began exchanging prescription drug information in a similar program, and now Tennessee and West Virginia have been asked to participate.

“All of us have prescription monitoring programs but none of them are connected to the other,” said Van Ingram, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy. “Where we met there in Ashland you could see a physician in Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio in one afternoon.”

Each state will keep separate prescription medication data, but when requested will make that same data available to doctors across the borders, he said.

“Once we get a data sharing model what we want to be able to do is a prescriber go to his state’s prescription monitoring data website, but request data from other states as well, and he could get it all in a combined report,” said Ingram.

The task force will focus on four areas: treatment, law enforcement, education and monitoring. Specialists for each topic will meet via conference phone and are expected to make recommendations for how to address these issues. Recommendations are expected by the fall, said Ingram.

Gov. Steve Beshear said the task force will combat the growing prescription drug abuse in the region. Currently, the only response to prescription abuse is law enforcement and not every case of cross border purchases is illegitimate, said Ingram.

Congress passed a 2005 bill for a national program called NASPER, but never had the funds to implement it.

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