Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway talked to Bowling Green rotarians and students Wednesday about the threat that prescription pill abuse poses to the state.

Conway, a Democrat, also said after the Bowling Green Noon Rotary Club meeting at Bowling Green Country Club that he hasn’t made a decision about running for governor in 2015, but that there is a “good chance” he will run if he thinks he can win and put together an administration to move the state forward.

“Obviously, I would love to be part of the dialogue going forward as to how we build Kentucky’s future,” he said.

In urging Warren East High School students to make good choices, Conway told them that if they get hooked on pain pills, they are probably headed in one of two directions: “You’re either going to jail or you’re going to the grave.”

Warren County Attorney Amy Milliken and Mike Donta, an Ashland resident whose son died after a struggle with prescription drug abuse, also spoke at the Warren East event, which took place in honor of Red Ribbon Week, which promotes drug prevention.

There are too many people addicted and dying as a result of prescription pills, Conway said.

“Just because it came in a bottle with a doctor’s name on it, it doesn’t mean it’s safe to take,” he said.

Last year, 220 million doses of hydrocodone were distributed in Kentucky, he told rotarians.

Conway said his office will try to hold pharmaceutical companies responsible for their role in the problem.

House Bill 1, which was signed into law in 2012, has meant that four times as many doctors are now using the Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Reporting system, and half of the pain clinics in the state have been shut down, he said.

“The collateral damage that this issue is having on our families and our young people cannot be accepted,” he said.

Conway’s goals when he was elected as attorney general in 2007 were to tackle prescription painkiller abuse and cybercrimes, as well as to devote attention to the civil side of his office by issuing opinions and dealing with consumer protection, Conway said.

“I think here we are nearly six years on and I’m very proud of the fact that I think we put people ahead of politics, and we have made significant strides in achieving those goals,” he said.

He created a cybercrimes unit despite a 37 percent cut in his office’s budget, Conway said.

In the past five years, the unit has processed about 7,000 hard drives and digital devices for courts, spoken to about 20,000 children about online safety and taken about 400,000 child pornography images off the Internet, he said.

Education will be a critical part of the state’s future and help Kentucky compete with other states and nations, he said during the rotary meeting.

It’s important to make higher education more efficient and end the “arms race” among university campuses, Conway said.

Public higher education is now beyond the reach of many families because of cost increases, he said.

With the state signing up new people for Medicaid, children involved in that process should be directed to early education opportunities which can have a big impact on their future, Conway said.

“If we’re signing up kids who are 3, 4 and 5 years old, let’s at least try to get them routed to some type of early childhood education,” he said.

The state can’t continue to think of health and education as separate fields, Conway said.

He also talked about the state’s need to strongly attack pension problems and also take a more active role in moves toward a natural gas pipeline in the state.

— Katie Brandenburg covers government. Follow her on Twitter at or visit

(1) comment

Justin Theobald
Justin Theobald

What Mr. Conway keeps failing to acknowledge is the FACT that KY HB1 2012 has hurt many innocent people including myself. It is a bad law- the KY legislature would not have rushed it into revision a mere 5 months or so later if it was a good law. And although I give the KY legislature credit for trying to revise it, the revisions really did not make much of a difference for most of the sick and disabled people adversely affected by it.

What it all boils down to is that the many innocent (sick and injured people) got severely punished for the acts of the guilty few (drug abusers). I’ll go out on a limb here and say that the # of sick folks affected by this odious law are far greater than the # of drug addicts it was meant to affect.

What KY HB 1 2012 has done is that it has taken medicine desperately needed by legitimate pain patients away from them. Because of the draconian provisions of this law scared so many doctors into dropping their pain patients it has left many sick and innocent people without proper healthcare. In the state of KY if you cannot find a regular doctor to prescribe your medications (Good luck with that! It is next to impossible nowadays!), you are then funneled into “pain management” centers. The problem with that is that pain management doctors or centers cost 2 to 6 times the cost of a regular doctor’s visit. This puts healthcare out of the reach of a good majority of pain patients who cannot afford this type of care. Not to mention that “pain management” doctors and centers are PUSHING unnecessary and invasive treatments and surgeries (injection therapies and pain pump surgeries) on patients who never abused their medications, many of whom took their prescriptions for years without escalation or incidence, who have “clean” KASPER records, and whose prescriptions were working for them.

My life was already a living Hell before HB1 because of the neurological pain caused by a genetic disease that I inherited; now my life is almost intolerable because HB1 took my meds away from me (I have a clean KASPER and no drug problems, arrests, or convictions). I spend almost all my time in bed because of pain nowadays, but before HB1 I was able to live a fairly normal life (for a disabled person) directly due to my medications.

Mr. Conway should be ashamed and embarrassed that he had anything to do with KY HB 1 rather than crowing about it! By now he has heard from enough pain patients to realize how many INNOCENT people have been harmed by HB 1! The fact that he can listen to our stories and then go out and brag about HB 1 leads me to believe that this man has no conscience! And- I DO NOT want to see this man become the governor of KY because of his apparent lack of ethics, principles, and conscience!

Not to mention that he is deleting comments from letter writers like me on his Facebook page and elsewhere! For a politician this is beyond the pale. It is UN-AMERICAN. If a politician cannot afford to publicly acknowledge folks that take his “achievements” to task or who question his “achievements”- then he is just a snake in the grass that does not belong in public office! To deny people free speech is as about as UN-AMERICAN as it gets!

Mr. Conway, I dare you to be the ethical and principled man you claim to be and publicly acknowledge and address the wrongs caused by KY HB 1 2012!

And to the people of the state of KY I say to YOU: You may not think that this (KY HB 1 2012) affects you, but you and those you love are one bad injury or nasty disease away from being one of us!

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