Chamber president testifies on importance of controlling prescription drug abuse

Yesterday, Chamber President & CEO Dave Adkisson testified at the House Judiciary Committee meeting on the importance of passing a bill to curb Kentucky’s prescription drug abuse. The committee heard more than two hours of testimony for and against the bill, which would require physicians to participate in Kentucky’s prescription drug monitoring system (KASPER) and move control over the system to the Attorney General’s office. The bill would also require pain clinic owners in Kentucky be licensed physicians. Adkisson spoke on behalf of the business community, stressing the importance of a qualified and drug-free workforce.

“Businesses large and small, rural and urban are all experiencing cost increases due to prescription drug abuse.”  Adkisson said. “Drug abuse is not only a social problem, it is also a bottom-line business issue for Kentucky employers.”

Those increased costs include Kentucky’s workers’ compensation premiums. Kentucky’s prescription drug addiction makes up nearly 20% of the medical costs that Kentucky’s workers’ compensation systems pays out annually for injured workers. Three of the top drugs in terms of dollars paid out of Kentucky’s workers’ compensation system are scheduled narcotics. “Surprisingly, it’s not the cost of the drugs that drive up costs, but the utilization,” explained Adkisson.

Besides the social issues and costs to businesses, prescription drug abuse is creating a workplace safety issue. “Kentucky’s workforce is not being rehabilitated and returning to work because our workforce is becoming more and more dependent on prescription drugs to manage the pain rather than traditional rehabilitation methods. Individuals impaired by prescription drugs create a serious workplace safety issue for those around them,” said Adkisson.

The Kentucky Chamber was joined by 16 other business groups and local chambers in urging the General Assembly to pass a comprehensive bill attacking prescription drug abuse. HB 1 (known as HB 4 during the regular session of the General Assembly) passed the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday and the full House of Representatives today.

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