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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Law - " Doctors to see new restrictions on painkiller prescriptions: Legislators part of statewide task force"

That is the headline to Maureen Hayden of CNHI's story today in the Anderson Herald Bulletin. The story begins:

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana is joining a growing number of states adopting tighter controls on how doctors are prescribing some of the most commonly used narcotic painkillers, in an effort to curb what public health officials call an epidemic of prescription drug abuse.

Late last week, the Indiana Medical Licensing Board adopted a set of emergency rules that call for drug testing of pain-medication patients, more screening and monitoring of patients by doctors to detect drug addiction and abuse, and a mandatory “treatment agreement” between doctors and patients that’s focused on improving health and not just alleviating pain.

The new rules – which serve as the basis for permanent rules to come — were adopted the same week that the federal Food and Drug Administration recommended tougher restrictions for the most widely abused prescription drugs that contain the narcotic hydrocodone, such a Vicodin, Lortab and their generic equivalents. The FDA restrictions, if passed, would reduce the number of refills patients could get before going back to see their doctor and would require patients to take a prescription to a pharmacy, rather than have their doctor call it in.

“These are big first steps, but we still have a long way to go controlling access to some very dangerous drugs,” said Republican state Sen. Ron Grooms, a retired Jeffersonville pharmacist who sponsored the legislation that led to the new state rules.

Grooms and members of a statewide drug abuse prevention task force that helped craft the new restrictions expect pushback from patients and doctors who’ve grown accustomed to relatively easy access to the commonly prescribed medications used to treat pain from arthritis, injuries, dental extractions and other problems.

But it’s grief they’re willing to take, given the explosion of people dependent on painkillers and the rise in overdose deaths.

“We knew if we didn’t get ahold of this problem now, it was going to be one of those things that we’d never get ahold of,” said Dr. Deborah McMahan, the Allen County health commissioner and chair of a statewide task force of medical and legal experts who helped craft the new prescribing rules. * * *

Grooms sponsored what’s known as the “pill mill” that gives Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller new authority to crack down on pain-management clinics around the state. It gives the attorney general’s office more access to medical records maintained by pain clinics and requires every pain management clinic in Indiana be owned and operated by someone who holds a valid registration to prescribe controlled substances.

But the law also called for the state Medical Licensing Board to put new protocols in place for prescribing opioid-based drugs. Dr. Amy LaHood, an Indianapolis family physician who helped write the rules, said they were needed to target doctors “used to writing out ‘scrips and just walking out the door.”

Related is this this hour-long Diane Rehm Show yesterday, titled "Debate Over Prescription Painkiller Regulations." Here is the introduction:
Last week, the FDA recommended tightening the way narcotic painkillers are regulated. The proposed changes on drugs containing hydrocodone are expected to go into effect next year. The move comes following a rapid spike in painkiller prescription as well as what many public health experts believe is an epidemic of abuse. It’s estimated that 100,000 people have died from overdoses in the last decade. But for patients struggling with pain, and for some doctors on the frontlines, the proposed restrictions go too far. Diane and her guests discuss the use and abuse of prescription painkillers.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 30, 2013 09:26 AM
Posted to General Law Related