Kentucky Gov Wages War on State's Oxy Epidemic
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Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky issued a stark call for action at the state's Prescription Drug Abuse Summit yesterday, confronting a problem he says is "killing our people." Asserting that "nothing is more important," he declared: "We must be aggressive, and we must act now." Beshear plans to spend $4 million over two years to bolster the Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting (KASPER). He's also working on legislation to make use of KASPER mandatory and to crack down on pill mills. "We are galvanizing our forces in this fight," he said, calling on health workers and church and business leaders to help. Kentucky has a particularly severe pill problem: Nearly 1,000 Kentuckians die from prescription drug abuse each year, and 9.5% of 12th-graders there say they've used prescription narcotics in the past 30 days. A commonwealth's attorney in Floyd County, Brent Turner, told the 300 conference delegates that at least 5,000 of his county's 40,000 residents are somehow involved in prescription drug trafficking. People in his area have even started selling drug-free urine at flea markets, enabling buyers to pass drug tests.