DO Cosponsors Bill To Fight Prescription Drug Abuse

State Representatives Terry Johnson, DO  (R-McDermott) and David Burke (R-Marysville) unveiled legislation, Feb 8, to combat prescription drug abuse by strengthening regulations against "pill mills" and using technology to prevent doctor shopping and diversion.

The legislation enhances the current Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System (OARRS), which was established in 2006 to help physicians identify drug-seeking patients.  It will also limit prescribers from dispensing certain controlled substances from their offices, implement Medicaid reforms to improve consumer education and care coordination, strengthen licensing and law enforcement of  pain management clinics, and develop a statewide "take-back" program to accept unused and expired prescription drugs.

"Since 2002, half or more of the autopsies that I ordered in my role as Scioto County Coroner revealed deaths caused directly or indirectly by drugs," said Dr. Johnson. "I found that, overwhelmingly these overdoses were due to prescription medications.  My statistics have been used by our local and state health departments to highlight the true extent of this tragic epidemic."

In Ohio, unintentional drug overdoses surpassed motor vehicle crashes and suicide as the leading cause of injury death in ohio. The highest rates in the state for these deaths are in southern Ohio, where seven of the 10 counties with the highest death rates are located.  

Burke and Johnson pointed out that access to treatment for patients with chronic pain needs to be protected,  but at the same time, the legislation "will close loop-holes caused by rogue prescribers and pill mill operations that kill four Ohioans a day."  The proposed legislation will:

  • limit in office dispensing of certain controlled substances
  • establish a Medicaid lock-in for patients who have high drug utilization, requiring them to select a primary provider and fill drugs from a designated pharmacy
  • defines a pain clinic and establishes a terminal distributor's license category for them with a $150 licensing fee
  • sets a $20,000 penalty for pain clinics that fail to apply for licenses
  • allows the pharmacy board with medical board oversight to summarily suspend licenses for clear and convincing evidence of danger to the public
  • closes business loopholes concerning ownership of pain clinics (at least one pill mill in Ohio is owned by a convicted felon)
  • restricts in-office dosages dispensed by providers to a 24 hour supply
  • Restricts, in a thirty-day period, the combined  total amount of controlled substances dispensed to two thousand five hundred dosage units;
  • requires that prescribing of controlled substances be reported to OARRS
  • establishes a statewide take-back program for unused prescriptions
  • instructs the Pharmacy Board to complete a six-month study on how to upgrade the OAARS system to make it more proactive and archival
  • Click here to see the complete text of HB 93

Speaker of the Ohio House William G. Batchelder (R-Medina) has also signed on as a cosponsor, saying it is "vital for the Ohio House to move swiftly on this legislation so we can curtail the scores of injury and death that result from prescription drug abuse."  

"The time for talk has ended and the time for action has begun,"  said Burke.  

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