Pubdate: Wed, 04 Jan 2017
Source: Blade, The (Toledo, OH)
Copyright: 2017 The Blade


COLUMBUS - Gov. John Kasich today signed another bill targeting Ohio's
opiate and heroin epidemic.

In 2015, Ohio led the nation in opioid overdose deaths.

Senate Bill 319, sponsored by Sen. John Eklund (R., Chardon), expands
access to the anti-overdose drug naloxone to entities such as homeless
shelters, halfway houses, schools, and treatment centers that deal with
populations at high risk of heroin overdose. It also offers civil immunity
to law enforcement officers who carry and use naloxone.

"We have spent a billion dollars on this issue. A billion dollars...," Mr.
Kasich said. "Thank God we expanded Medicaid, because that Medicaid money
is helping to rehab people...There are going to be more tools to come, but
we're not going to defeat this just from the top down."

He made the argument that the real answer is in talking to youths on ball
fields and schools about drugs and to stop prescribing so many
prescription painkillers in the first place.

The new law closes an exemption in current law that allows sole
proprietors in private practice - doctors, veterinarians, dentist, and
other health care professionals-to directly distribute medications to
patients without oversight from the Ohio Board of Pharmacy. Such
professionals distributed 6.5 million doses, including 3 million doses of
opiates, in 2015.

The bill also ends Ohio's status as one of eight states that do not
require pharmacy technicians, who have been blamed for roughly a third of
all drug theft cases over the last three years, to register with the state
pharmacy board. The move subjects them to uniform criminal background
checks and competency requirements.

"Four out of five people who were addicted to heroin because they were
first addicted to prescription narcotics...," said Rep. Robert Sprague
(R., Findlay), who sponsored a similar bill in the House. "The heroin
addiction is really just a continuation of that addiction that started
with those pills."

The number of prescriptions written and shopping by patients to find
doctors willing to write those prescriptions are down. But the number of
addiction-related deaths continues to climb.

The law will take effect in 90 days.
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