PRESTONSBURG – Finding a way to reduce the diversion and abuse of prescription drugs is a major issue – not only in Kentucky, but on a national scale.

John Eadie, director of an initiative to monitor and assist prescription drug monitoring programs (PMPs) nationwide, will discuss what is being done and how medical professionals from across the state can benefit from collaboration during the next meeting of Operation UNITE’s Medical Advisory Council on Thursday, January 20.

“We need to find ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness (of prescription drug monitoring) in order to further interdict this epidemic,” Eadie said, noting “Kentucky happens to have one of the best (PMPs) in the country.”

The Council meeting will be held in the conference training room of the Big Sandy Area Development District, 100 Resource Drive, Prestonsburg. Dinner will be served at 5:30 p.m. with the business meeting beginning at 6 p.m.

Any medical professional interested in lending their expertise to the Medical Advisory Council, created to advise UNITE’s Board of Directors, is welcome to attend.

There is no charge for dinner, but an RSVP is requested to Sarah Flynn, UNITE director for Research and Community Outreach, at 1-866-678-6483 or

“To fully craft a course of action to address drug addiction, workplace safety, diversion and other issues we need input from all sectors of the health care profession,” said Karen Kelly, UNITE director. “We are excited about having Mr. Eadie come and share information with this region’s medical professionals.”

Located at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, the PMP Center of Excellence serves as an informational clearinghouse and helps identify best practices in prescription monitoring.

PMPs are currently authorized in 43 states and the U.S. Territory of Guam. While the basic function of a PMP is to track filled prescriptions for controlled substances dispensed by pharmacies, these programs vary greatly in data collection, how the data is analyzed, and how it is reported and used.

By providing useful and timely data on prescriptions to doctors, pharmacies and regulatory agencies, Eadie said the center can serve as a forum for the effective exchange of ideas and fostering of partnerships that will increase PMP effectiveness.

Sharing data is important, Eadie continued, because it allows early identification of trends. This, in turn, allows agencies to focus limited resources to better prevent problems “rather than wait until the deaths are going up.”

“It is extremely important to link Operation UNITE and the prescription monitoring programs with the medical community,” Eadie stated.

The Center is funded through a training and technical assistance grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance as part of the Harold Rogers Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

Congressman Rogers, who represents Kentucky’s Fifth Congressional District, created the national program in 2001. “He identified (the problem) early” and has been a leading force in the effort to stop drug abuse and diversion, Eadie said.

Funding from this program has been used to enhance and expand the Kentucky All-Schedule Electronic Reporting (KASPER) system. In 2005, the state became the first in the nation to provide a self-service, Internet-based system for tracking all schedule II-V prescription drugs.

Van Ingram, Executive Director for the Kentucky Office on Drug Control Policy, and KASPER Project Manager Dave Hopkins also expected to attend the Medical Advisory Council meeting.

Better utilization of the state’s prescription drug monitoring program, increasing education about the disease of addiction, and providing greater collaboration and communication on available resources were all short-term priorities identified during a medical symposium held in March.

That meeting brought together more than 300 physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, social workers, substance abuse counselors, adult care providers, coalition representatives and other professionals to address prescription drug abuse and workplace safety.

As a result of the first two council workshop sessions, conducted with guidance from Eastern Kentucky University’s Facilitation Center, members have developed the following purpose: “To aid UNITE in the fight against drug abuse in our communities through a process of education, accountability, monitoring, and continual re-evaluation of what we do together as medical professionals.”