Starting Thursday, patients coming off an injury or minor surgery will face strict limits in how many opiates they can be prescribed for their acute pain and doctors who ignore the new rules could face sanctions, state officials warned Wednesday.
“I don’t care who you are. You violate these guidelines and the Medical Board will come after you and you will be disciplined and perhaps even lose your license. Let’s be clear about this, this is really, really serious stuff,” said Ohio Gov. John Kasich at a press conference. Doctors have a responsibility to dispense opiates in a responsible manner, he said.
The new rules allow for seven days of opiates for adults and five days for children when the drugs are prescribed to treat acute pain, such as after surgeries or injuries. The rules also set limits on the total morphine equivalent dose doled out and prescribers will be required to report diagnoses when opiates are prescribed.
The goal of tightening opiates given for acute pain is prevent people from becoming the next generation of opioid addicts.
Kasich said amid all the bad news about the opiate addiction crisis, data show a decline in the number of prescribed opiate doses, the incidence of “doctor shopping,” and deaths attributed to accidental overdoses on prescribed drugs. Kasich pointed to steps the state has taken to combat the crisis and held Ohio up as a national model.
“This is a direction that the entire country ought to think about. It’s a road map to how you begin to solve this problem,” Kasich said.
Ohio has taken several steps to combat the opioid addiction crisis, including expanding Ohio Medicaid under Obamacare, which then freed up money for drug addiction treatment services; requiring pharmacy technicians to register with the Ohio Board of Pharmacy; limit opiate prescriptions to a 90-day supply; and issue prescribing guidelines for chronic pain management clinics, emergency rooms, and acute care facilities.
Across the nation, drug overdoses kill roughly 142 people a day, including about 11 each day in Ohio.
More than 10 years ago, the state established the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System — a database that doctors, dentists and pharmacists must check and report to when opiate prescriptions are involved. The database can detect “doctor shopping” by addicts seeking painkillers.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, both candidates for governor in 2018, filed high-profile lawsuits against pharmacuetical companies for the marketing tactics used to sell powerful painkillers.
Kasich sounded a warning about fentanyl being laced into heroin, cocaine, marijuana or other street drugs.
“For those people who are out there who think it’s safe to meet somebody on the corner and score a little something, you’re playing with your life,” he said.