April 1, 2005
System targets doctor shopping, prescription drug diversion
On March 16, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ Office of Inspector General unveiled its enhanced Web-based, state-operated database that is used to identify and prevent controlled substance abuse in Kentucky. This makes Kentucky the first state in the nation to provide a self-service, Web-based system for tracking all schedule II-V prescription drugs.
The Enhanced Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting program, known as eKASPER, is a true technological success story for Kentucky. “eKASPER will allow pharmacists, physicians, law enforcement and other qualified users to get KASPER reports 24 hours a day, 7 days a week within 15 minutes or less of making a request, compared to the current fax only request system that can take from two hours to three weeks to issue a report,” says CHFS’ Inspector General Robert J. Benvenuti, III. “eKASPER is the most effective and efficient tool ever implemented to combat prescription drug abuse in Kentucky. Its benefit will be immediate and powerful and have an incredibly positive impact on the citizens of the commonwealth.”
Approximately 1,300 pharmacies across the state report all controlled substances they dispense through this system.
During the year 2000, there were 36,174 requests for information from KASPER; in 2004 that number jumped to 122,469 requests. Before KASPER, it took drug control investigators an average of 156 days to complete an investigation of alleged drug diversion. Under KASPER, the average time dropped to 16 days. With eKASPER it’s expected to drop further, plus provide improved accuracy of data reported.
“We commend the 2003 General Assembly for appropriating $1.4 million and Congressman Hal Rogers for the $350,000 grant that allowed us to bring eKASPER to life as a real time data access program. Likewise, we are sincerely grateful to all the individuals who have dedicated their expertise and time in the development and implementation of the eKASPER project,” said Dr. James W. Holsinger, Jr., secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. “Literally, a physician or pharmacist can review the database 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and print a report online in just a few minutes while the patient is still waiting for the prescription.”
KASPER began operating in 1999. The system tracks all schedule II-V drugs dispensed by licensed Kentucky pharmacists. It was developed to help physicians, pharmacists and law enforcement fight “doctor shopping" - when patients go from doctor to doctor illegally seeking controlled substances - and the illegal diversion of these substances.
Under the leadership of Dr. Holsinger, the program, which is administered by the Drug Enforcement and Professional Practices Branch (DEPPB), moved in 2004 from the Department of Public Health to the Office of Inspector General’s Division of Fraud, Waste and Abuse/Identification and Prevention. Under KASPER, pharmacists must report all controlled substances within 16 days of the day the drug was given to the patient. The information is kept in a secure database and is confidential, as are other medical records. Although over 20 states presently have similar prescription monitoring programs, no state provides a self-service, Web-based system such as the one now available in Kentucky.
Authorized health care providers who previously suspected abuse requested a patient's controlled substance history through KASPER by faxing or mailing a form to the DEPPB seeking the information, with the turnaround no faster than several hours. Now they can access the information on their computers in about 15 minutes, potentially while patients and customers are present in their offices. KASPER provides the dates, amounts, pharmacy locations and prescribing physicians for any controlled substances given to a patient.
"The eKASPER system is a great crime fighting tool that police officers can use to help curtail the illegal use and spread of certain prescription drugs in Kentucky," said Lieutenant Governor Steve Pence, secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet. "This real time, Web-based tool is designed to prevent doctor shopping by drug addicts. Instead of waiting days for a report, officers can have it in a matter of minutes. A quick turnaround time will aid officers in the apprehension of offenders.”
State law also allows law enforcement agencies to seek data from eKASPER if they are investigating a criminal case.
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For more information on eKASPER, contact the Drug Enforcement and Professionals Practices Branch at 502/564-7985 or visit http://chfs.ky.gov/oig/dfwaip.htm