WASHINGTON, D.C. — According to Somerset’s own Congressman Hal Rogers, Kentucky possesses one of the nation’s “flagship” programs for keeping a watchful eye on prescription drug abuse.

Rogers made the statement while lauding President George W. Bush’s just-released national drug control strategy, which champions the utilization of state prescription drug monitoring programs as part of the government’s effort to quell addictions to various medicines and drugs.

“Prescription drug abuse is a national epidemic,” Rogers said. “As we've seen here at home, these drugs are killers. State monitoring programs, like Kentucky's KASPER system, are helping fight prescription drug abuse and bring hope to communities around the nation. I applaud President Bush for recognizing the importance of these programs and supporting them through his budget request.”

KASPER, the Kentucky All-Schedule Electronic Reporting System, is designed to track prescriptions of controlled substances and how they are distributed and dispensed in Kentucky. KASPER reports show all scheduled prescriptions for someone over a particular time period, and who is dispensing the drugs.

In March 2005, Kentucky offered eKASPER, the first self-serve Internet program in the U.S. allowing the tracking of all schedule II-V prescription drugs. Pharmacists, law enforcement and other authorized users can obtain KASPER reports anytime using the eKASPER service.

KASPER has also helped greatly reduce the time needed to complete investigations into prescription drug abuse. Before KASPER in 1999, it took drug control agents an average of 156 days to complete such investigations; that time is now only 16 days.

As a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, Rogers, who aided in the creation of drug-fighting organization Operation UNITE in 2003, helped create a national grant program in 2001 that helps states track and combat prescription drug abuse — a program that pumped $940,000 into Kentucky’s funds to aid the development of KASPER.

Congress has since appropriated $34 million for the “Harold Rogers Prescription Drug Monitoring Program,” while the President's Fiscal Year 2007 budget proposal includes $9.9 million for this program. As many as 25 states have at least begun the process of implementing prescription drug monitoring programs as of October of 2005.

“One of the hallmarks of this program is the flexibility it provides states in setting up their own prescription drug monitoring program,” said Rogers. “Of the programs up and running, each one is unique and arranged according to the diversion needs of that particular state. Each state addresses concerns over access and privacy in a manner acceptable to their respective citizens.”

Rogers pointed out that some states, such as Kentucky, associate programs inside a health services agency while others, like Texas, house the programs in a law enforcement agency.

“Because of this localized approach, each state finds their program to be an unqualified success,” said Rogers.

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