Kentucky ranks high among states for recent efforts to curb the scourge of drug abuse, but it has the third-highest rate of fatal overdoses — the vast majority from prescription pills, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal. A new drug policy report card from Trust for America’s Health supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation said drug overdose deaths quadrupled in Kentucky since 1999, rising from 4.9 per 100,000 to 23.6 per 100,000 in 2010, higher than all states but West Virginia and New Mexico.
On a more positive note, Kentucky was one of three states to achieve a ranking of nine, on a scale of zero to 10, for their anti-pill-abuse policies. Researchers considered issues such as monitoring, prescriber education and doctor-shopping laws. The other states with a nine ranking were Massachusetts, New York and Washington, with only New Mexico and Vermont achieving a 10. Many of the indicators for which Kentucky received points were parts of a 2012 “pill mill” law that legislators have said was driven in part by a Courier-Journal series, Prescription for Tragedy, which has chronicled Kentucky's pill epidemic for more than two years.