HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Project Targets Drug Abuse
Pubdate: Fri, 29 Nov 2002
Source: Lexington Herald-Leader (KY)
Copyright: 2002 Lexington Herald-Leader


Harlan, Perry To Get Bar-code Program

LOUISVILLE - Kentucky will receive about $240,000 to start a pilot
program to battle prescription drug abuse in Harlan and Perry counties.

Kentucky is one of nine states that will share a $2 million federal
grant to enhance or begin programs that detect prescription drug abuse.

Neighboring Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia will obtain money to
begin similar detection programs. Pennsylvania, California,
Massachusetts, Nevada and Utah also will share the grant.

Under Kentucky's program, doctors would write prescriptions on
bar-coded paper, allowing pharmacists to scan the information, said
Scott Render, a spokesman for the Governor's Office for Technology.

It would allow for immediate recording of pharmacy transactions, an
improvement over the month delay in getting data from Kentucky's
current prescription tracking program.

Kentucky started a program three years ago called KASPER -- Kentucky
All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting -- to track controlled
substances dispensed by pharmacists. Despite KASPER, drug abuse
remained prevalent along the state's border since five neighboring
states do not monitor sales of potent painkillers such as hydrocodone
and OxyContin.

An analysis of autopsy reports nationwide showed OxyContin was
involved in 464 deaths, with one-fourth of those in Kentucky and
Virginia, the Drug Enforcement Administration reported in February.

"The problem is acute in my district," said U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, who
represents eastern and southern Kentucky. "In my 22 years in Congress,
I have not seen anything as pervasive and destructive."

Critics of the pilot program say it would make it difficult for
physicians to share information and identify "doctor shoppers,"
addicts who visit multiple doctors to get prescriptions.

"Law enforcement can put them in jail, but physicians, we can prevent
it," said Dr. Laxmaiah Manchikanti, who practices in Paducah and is
president of the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians.

Since the state programs are not uniform, they provide no assurance
that doctors and pharmacists will have easy access to information
collected, Manchikanti said.

Instead, the group supports legislation to create a national
prescription drug monitoring program, which is expected to be
introduced in January by U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield. The program would
create a federal database and give physicians access to other state's
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