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Guest column from Rep. Robert Sprague on curbing prescription drug addiction

 

Rep. Robert SpragueNearly all of us know of someone who, because of an accident or illness, was prescribed some type of prescription that could ease his or her pain for a set amount of time. It’s unfortunate that these painkillers are needed, but they continue to serve a useful purpose when no other option is available.

In addition, many people know someone who has had a need for these drugs and ultimately became addicted to them. In some cases, this can lead to the use and abuse of other drugs. Make no mistake; this abuse is unacceptable and illegal. That’s why I, along with other members of the Ohio House, have been taking a close look at how we can address the problem.

Just recently, I co-sponsored House Bill 332, which is being sponsored by Rep. Lynn Wachtmann and Rep. Nickie Antonio. This legislation establishes standards and other various procedures for health professionals to use when prescribing opioids to patients under the age of 50 who experience chronic pain that’s not caused by cancer. It also requires disciplinary action for any health professional that does not comply with the standards and procedures.

Under House Bill 332, prescribers must refer a patient to a pain medicine specialist to evaluate treatment options before prescribing opioids to treat non-cancer, chronic pain. Without exhausting other treatment options, the prescriber cannot consider opioid treatment on a long-term basis.  The longer that a patient receives opioid treatment, the more tolerance their bodies develop to the drug.

When the use of opioids is appropriate, the prescriber must monitor the treatment through the methods set forth in the legislation. These include certain documentation of the treatment plan, including the diagnosis, assessments and evaluations. The standards also put in place methods for acquiring informed consent, after thoroughly discussing the treatment and risks, and identifying misuse of opioids or other drugs through the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System.

I’m confident that by putting into place these clear standards and making them uniform across the array of health care professions, they will assist with getting the opioid epidemic under control. When other treatment options for chronic pain are available, it makes good sense for us to take advantage of them. House Bill 332 is a step in the right direction, and I hope to see it get passed into law.

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