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Gov. Matt Bevin testified Wednesday in support of a bill that would restrict some prescriptions for painkillers to three-day supplies, saying the commonwealth has a moral obligation to take action to curb the opioid addictions afflicting Kentuckians.
“We’ve got to make it harder to get addicted,” Bevin told state lawmakers.
He questioned why people in America are given large volumes of highly addictive drugs to take home and said House Bill 333 can help address that problem in Kentucky.
Bevin encouraged the members of the state House of Representatives’ judiciary committee, which approved the bill Wednesday, to move beyond paying “lip service” to the opioid crisis that cripples Kentucky and the U.S. and take definitive action.
“It’s a huge problem nationally. It’s a bigger problem for Kentucky,” Bevin told reporters Wednesday before he testified. “For me to not take leadership I think would be an abdication of not only my responsibility but the opportunity that I have as governor to make sure that this is elevated to a level of discussion that it deserves.”
House Bill 333 would prohibit medical professionals from giving patients prescriptions for more than a three-day supply of a Schedule II controlled substance — such as narcotics like OxyContin and Dilaudid — to treat pain as an acute medical condition.
The legislation includes several exceptions to its proposed three-day rule, which will preserve prescribers’ ability to make professional judgments on a case-by-case basis, according to its sponsor, Republican Rep. Kimberly Poore Moser of Taylor Mill. Doctors who determine it’s medically necessary to give a patient a larger supply of a restricted drug could do so as long as they provide justification for that deand cision. And Schedule II drugs could be prescribed for more than three days to treat chronic or cancer-related pain as well as for patients in hospice care.
“The goal is to reduce the potential for addiction,” Moser said. “This is not telling providers that they can’t prescribe more than three days.”
This bill will bring Kentucky in line with federal guidelines for opioid prescriptions, Moser said. It also would help ensure that hempderived cannabidiol products, such as oil used to treat epilepsy, could be prescribed legally in Kentucky if it is approved by the U.S. Food Drug Administration.
The legislation includes other provisions that would toughen trafficking penalties for fentanyl, which can be mixed in with the heroin people buy off the street and has been linked to many fatal overdoses in Kentucky. A bill that passed in the state Senate this week also targets fentanyl trafficking.
House Bill 333 now heads to the House floor for a vote.
By Morgan Watkins
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 09, 2017
Pharmacies dispensing opioids are thriving in an impoverished Eastern Kentucky coal-depressed county, Phil Galewitz reports for Kaiser Health News. In Clay County, Kentucky (Wikipedia map) the unemployment rate is 8.4 percent, well above state and national averages, and 47 percent of residents live below the poverty line. Despite the downturn in the economy in the region, in Manchester, the county's largest city with 1,500 residents, there are 11 pharmacies, mostly independently owned, with four opening in just the past three years.
"Drug manufacturers and distributors have pumped prescription opioid painkillers into rural America, in response to demand—much of it from adults who had become physically addicted," Galewitz writes. "The expansion of Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act increased the percentage of Clay County residents with Medicaid and gave more of them access to free prescription drugs, including pain pills. Though Clay County’s opioid problem long preceded the act, the improved legal access helped bring a long standing problem out from the shadows. Statistics show residents are swallowing the preferred prescription opioid more."
In Clay County, which consists of 21,364 residents, "2.2 million doses of hydrocodone and about 617,000 doses of oxycodone" were dispensed during a 12 month period ending in September 2016, Galewitz writes. That's 150 doses for every resident. Even before ACA, prescription drugs were a problem. From 2009 to 2013, Clay County had the state's third highest rate of hospitalizations for pharmaceutical opioid overdoses.
In Manchester, known for years as one of the nation’s unhealthiest places to live, "four in 10 residents rate their health status as being fair or poor, twice the share for the entire state population," Galewitz writes. "Close to half the county is obese. The rate of diabetes is also higher than average."
Manchester’s closest inpatient drug treatment facility carries a waiting list of 100 people that’s grown more than 50 percent in recent years, said Tim Cesario, director of substance abuse services at the Cumberland River Comprehensive Care Center in Corbin. The facility—with 41 beds for men and 15 for women—has been at capacity for several years, he said."
"About 60 percent of Clay’s residents are on Medicaid, up from 35 percent three years ago. It is among the most highly concentrated Medicaid populations in the country," Galewitz writes. Steve Shannon, executive director of the Kentucky Association of Regional Programs, says Medicaid’s expansion has not created more addicts. He told Galewitz, “People who were uninsured were pretty resourceful when it came to finding drugs."
Written by Tim Mandell Posted at 2/09/2017 11:09:00 AM
Kentucky Spring Wildfire Season begins next week February 15 and runs through April 30th. Now is the time to become wildfire ready as we’ve already seen a few wildfires the last several days.
The threat of wildland fires for people living near wildland areas or using recreational facilities in wilderness areas is real. Dry conditions at various times of the year and in various parts of the United States greatly increase the potential for wildland fires.
Advance planning and knowing how to protect buildings in these areas can lessen the devastation of a wildland fire. There are several safety precautions that you can take to reduce the risk of fire losses. Protecting your home from wildfire is your responsibility. To reduce the risk, you'll need to consider the fire resistance of your home, the topography of your property and the nature of the vegetation close by.
Learn about the history of wildfire in your area. Be aware of recent weather. A long period without rain increases the risk of wildfire. Consider having a professional inspect your property and offer recommendations for reducing the wildfire risk. Determine your community's ability to respond to wildfire. Are roads leading to your property clearly marked? Are the roads wide enough to allow firefighting equipment to get through? Is your house number visible from the roadside?
Build fires away from nearby trees or bushes.
Always have a way to extinguish the fire quickly and completely.
Install smoke detectors on every level of your home and near sleeping areas.
Never leave a fire--even a cigarette--burning unattended.
Avoid open burning completely, and especially during dry season.
Evacuation may be the only way to protect your family in a wildfire. Know where to go and what to bring with you. You should plan several escape routes in case roads are blocked by a wildfire.