NPR recently published online an interview Andy Beshear, Kentucky’s attorney general. In it, Beshear talks about the need for his office to crack down on Suboxone, the drug used to treat addiction, dispensaries. Below is part of the article and a link to the full text.


How An Opioid Treatment Could Be Contributing To The Problem

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

One of the most common treatments for opioid addiction is a drug that’s called Suboxone. When used correctly, it can help addicts recover. But it has a dark side. Suboxone is itself an opioid, so it can be abused as well. And some doctors are selling the drug illegally, making the opioid crisis worse. That is the fear in Kentucky, a state that had to confront so-called pill mills where doctors basically handed out prescription drugs on demand. Kentucky’s attorney general, Andy Beshear, said he is not taking this new Suboxone issue lightly. He is cracking down.

ANDY BESHEAR: We just indicted a doctor in east Kentucky that was illegally prescribing Suboxone and was taking cash from customers where Medicaid should have covered it. So we have those that are out there that are breaking the law to profit. But the second problem that we have is we do not have sufficient regulations, either in our state or nationally, to assure that only the right patients are getting Suboxone and that they are receiving real counseling. We saw this exact same process happen with the rise of pill mills all over the country.

GREENE: So what’s your plan here? How are you going to identify the bad doctors and go after them?

BESHEAR: We have law enforcement investigators right here in our attorney general’s office that can and do investigate rogue Suboxone clinics that are not following the current laws that are in the Commonwealth. Now, the second thing we have done is propose legislation very similar to what was passed in West Virginia. Now, that would require that all clinics be at least partially owned by a doctor. So if that doctor loses their medical license, the clinic shuts down – that clinics cannot take cash or cash only, that counseling is required for every single patient that receives a prescription, that sets certain time requirements where we can’t see a hundred people come in and out of an office in less than two hours – which, sadly, that we see – and then provide some oversight by our Cabinet for Health and Family Services.