Governor John Kasich of Ohio has announced a new rule regarding prescription narcotic medication. The rule is that any narcotic prescription will be for no more than seven days for adults, and five days for minors. It will go into effect this summer and will require the cooperation of Ohio’s doctors, dentists, and some nurses.
Kasich has advised that any authorized medical personnel who do not adhere to the new rule will be in “serious trouble,” and possibly in danger of losing their licenses. Currently, prescriptions can last for anywhere from 30 to 90 days. This is far too long and has likely contributed to the growing opioid epidemic Ohio is now fighting. In 2015, 3,050 people died of a drug overdose in Ohio.
The Governor acknowledged that drug addiction is at an epidemic level and said, “We’re paying the price now for a lot of the neglect we had in the past,” Kasich said. Narcotic abuse is not only a problem in Ohio, nationwide we are seeing the results of the years of neglect by medical professionals, as well as the street drug problem that includes a mixture of the various opioids, which is even more addictive.
The Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review is set to review the new rules before the process will begin, which may take several months. They will be implemented by medical professionals who belong to the State Medical Board, Ohio Board of Pharmacy, Board of Nursing and the Dental Board. In addition to the seven-day rule, they are required to write a specific diagnosis or procedure code on the prescription.
These will specify that the drug is to only be used for acute pain associated with broken bones, dental work, surgery, sprains and other conditions requiring pain management. This is an aggressive approach but a necessary one as Ohio struggles to lower the death tolls associated with opioid use and abuse. Dr. Mark Hurst notes that Kasich’s idea is to decrease the amount of unnecessary pills being prescribed.
It is believed that opioid addiction, especially in young people, can easily begin with sharing pills at home. This sharing can happen when pills are prescribed in such quantity that they are no longer needed, and the patient has some left over. “Every unused pill is an opportunity for someone to take that pill inappropriately,” Dr. Hurst said.
The seven-day rule should decrease those chances considerably.
What do you think of Ohio’s stand against the narcotic epidemic? Let’s discuss here or on Twitter @lcarterwriter.