Health and Family Services Cabinet
KASPER Advisory Council Holds First Meeting
Panel to Explore Ways to Use Prescription Drug Monitoring Data to Curb Abuse
FRANKFORT, KY (Dec. 2, 2011) - The KASPER Advisory Council, an 11-member board of professionals recently appointed by Governor Steve Beshear, held its first meeting today to look at ways to help authorized agencies identify suspicious drug prescribing habits by medical professionals.
“KASPER has become a national model among prescription drug monitoring programs. It continues to be an excellent tool in the surveillance of prescribing habits across Kentucky,” Gov. Beshear said. “I created the council to look at the system and explore ways to use the data more proactively to identify not only drug seekers but also providers who may be acting as drug pushers rather than medical professionals.”
KASPER – the Kentucky All Schedule Electronic Reporting system – will be the primary focus of the council, which consists of health care providers, dentists and mental health professionals. KASPER is overseen by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS).
Specifically, the council will make recommendations on identifying suspicious prescribing habits observed in KASPER data so that unusual records may be submitted to medical licensure boards for further review or criminal investigation.
During the meeting, council members received an overview on prescription drug abuse in Kentucky and heard presentations from KASPER program staff, Operation UNITE, the Kentucky Attorney General and Kentucky State Police.
“If used to its fullest extent, KASPER can save the lives of Kentuckians who are dying every day from prescription drug overdoses,” said Attorney General Jack Conway. “I look forward to aggressively and quickly pursuing any changes that will improve this powerful investigative tool."
“Any effort to better coordinate the use of KASPER data is a positive move,” said Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo. “The General Assembly passed the KASPER law eight years ago, but the medical licensure board has ignored its responsibility to police its own profession. I would strongly recommend to the task force that it hold the medical licensure board to its legal and statutory responsibility.”
The advisory council, which was created by the Governor through an Executive Order issued Oct. 14, will continue to work with law enforcement professionals and KASPER officials at CHFS to create methods for identifying generally accepted prescribing practices among different medical disciplines.
According to the Cabinet, prescription writing varies widely among different medical disciplines. For example, a monthly rate of 50 prescriptions for painkillers may be routine for an oncologist but an unusually high number for a dentist.
The council’s criteria will be used as a guide when a prescriber or dispenser’s KASPER reports may be flagged for unusual prescribing activity.
“Prescription drug abuse is a significant public health concern for our state. However, it is important to understand the usefulness and lifesaving potential of prescribed narcotics,” said CHFS Secretary Janie Miller. “Effective monitoring of the KASPER system is a complex issue that requires expertise from a variety of fields, and we look forward to working with the council to help eradicate prescription drug abuse in the Commonwealth.”
The reports flagged by the council and the KASPER system will be submitted to the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure (KBML), Kentucky Board of Dentistry (KBD), Kentucky Board of Nursing (KBN) or the Kentucky Board of Pharmacy (KBP). If prescribing patterns are not acceptable, further internal reviews will be conducted. If unlawful prescribing is identified, the report will be submitted to Kentucky State Police or the Attorney General for investigation.
Gov. Beshear, Attorney General Conway and Speaker Stumbo have announced plans to hold multiple educational summits on prescription drug abuse for medical professionals throughout the state. The leaders will also support legislation in the upcoming General Assembly to regulate and license pain clinics and to require use of KASPER among all medical professionals who can write prescriptions.
“For years, our state has battled a tremendous prescription drug abuse problem. It is tearing our families and communities apart,” Gov. Beshear said. “Our advisory council and our upcoming legislative proposals are a step in the right direction toward stopping prescription drug abuse and restoring hope to our families and communities.”