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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, June 12, 2018 1:00 am

Ohio has new plan for opioid crisis

Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Doctors prescribing painkillers to patients with chronic pain should be required to also provide them with prescriptions for anti-overdose drugs, several people and organizations told the Ohio medical board as it reviews ways to slow the opioid crisis.

Under current rules, doctors must prescribe opioids like Vicodin or Percocet for chronic pain in a way that prevents the drugs' misuse. But those rules don't spell out safety steps doctors should take as doses increase.

The medical board is proposing to tighten rules for chronic pain prescribing, such as requiring that patients meet with a pain management specialist when drugs hit higher doses. The Associated Press obtained public comments to the medical board on the rules through a records request.

The proposals govern patients experiencing chronic pain associated with cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and other illnesses. The rules wouldn't apply to patients who are dying.

Republican Gov. John Kasich has pushed prescribing limits in recent years to battle the addiction crisis, which led to a record 4,050 overdose deaths in Ohio in 2016, a number expected to jump even higher when 2017 data are available.

The rules proposed by Kasich last month require doctors offer the overdose antidote drug naloxone to those patients, a practice known as “co-prescribing.”

That doesn't go far enough, especially at a time thousands are dying in the state from overdoses, according to the public comments obtained by the AP.