Democrats Ask Drug Policy Office to Do More to Combat Opioid Epidemic
Twenty Democratic senators are asking the Office of National Drug Control Policy to do more to combat the opioid epidemic, according to the Associated Press.
Ohio Governor John Kasich has announced new guidelines to fight prescription drug abuse, which aim to restrict painkiller prescriptions written in hospital emergency rooms.
According to the Toledo Blade, 39 percent of all opioid prescriptions nationally come from emergency rooms.
Dr. Ted Wymyslo, Director of the Ohio Department of Health, said the guidelines are voluntary. Emergency rooms or urgent care centers that do not adhere to them will not be penalized. He added there is a big incentive for hospitals and clinics to follow the guidelines. “You don’t want to be the [emergency department] or urgent care in your community that does not follow this, because you will get everyone who wants to divert drugs or wants to abuse drugs coming to your center, and that’s largely not what any of these centers wants to be about,” he said.
The guidelines aim to prevent patients from coming to the emergency room repeatedly to get prescriptions for the same injuries. They discourage longer-term prescriptions for opioids such as OxyContin and methadone, and routine replacement of prescriptions that patients claim have been lost or destroyed.
Emergency rooms can perform drug screening tests, and request medical and prescription records from other hospitals, the article notes. Dr. Wymyslo said most emergency room doctors will not be prescribing more than a three-day supply of controlled substances, and will try to reconnect patients with their own personal physician or a specialist.
“This is a really big deal to be able to get the emergency rooms to agree that they’re going to enter a protocol so that we’re not going to allow people to go in there, get these prescriptions and be able to sell them,” Governor Kasich said in a news release. “This is a huge step, and I can’t tell you how happy I am that the urgent care people raised their hands and said, ‘we want to be a part of it.’”