(September 2015) Two DOs joined State Reps. Robert Sprage (R-Findlay) and Nickie Antonio D-Lakewood) at the Statehouse, September 17, to urge quick passage of legislation to help fight Ohio's prescription drug abuse epidemic.
Ohio HB 248 mandates insurance companies pay for abuse deterrent versions of addictive pain medications. The two legislators, who are cosponsors of the bill, used a hammer to try to crush pills for reporters. They failed.
According to Elizabeth Lottes, DO, who works with patients at Maryhaven, the coatings on abuse deterrent pills prevent addicts from smashing them to snort for a quick high. She said it is impossible to scrape the coatings off.
“We tried scraping it off at Maryhaven. We tried melting it, and (someone) tried putting it in his mouth, but we could not get the coating to break down," explained Lottes.
Sprague said instances of snorting or injecting abuse deterrent drugs fell by 70 percent after the Federal Drug Administration first approved the new product. He said drug overdoses, however, continue to be the leading cause of accidental deaths in Ohio, despite recent initiatives to address the problem.
“By making tamper-resistant pain drugs more widely available, we can begin to turn that around," Sprague said.
Michael Bourn, DO, medical director of pain and palliative medicine at Doctors Hospital in Columbus, said the main reason doctors do not prescribe tamper-resistant versions of the pills is they are often more expensive and insurance companies won’t pay for them. He said most physicians would prefer to prescribe them for safety reasons.
“People who abuse prescription pain pills are more likely to end up in the hospital and more likely to need outpatient treatment,” added Antonio. “If we can prevent abuse, prevent an overdose, we can save those costs. So H.B. 248 is a good financial strategy as well as being a way to help save lives and keep families from suffering the consequences of drug abuse.”