HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Panel OKs Clinic Restrictions
Pubdate: Tue, 12 Feb 2008
Source: Courier-Journal, The (Louisville, KY)
Copyright: 2008 The Courier-Journal
Note: Only publishes local LTEs
Author: Lesley Stedman Weidenbener
Bookmark: (Methadone)


INDIANAPOLIS -- Legislation to impose new restrictions on methadone 
clinics, including a requirement that patients be tested for 
marijuana and have a designated driver after appointments, cleared a 
House committee yesterday.

The House Health Committee unanimously approved Senate Bill 157, but 
some members said they did so with reservations, particularly about 
the driving provision added yesterday.

"I'm concerned we'll lose people in treatment who are riding a bus or 
walking or don't have a designated driver," said Rep. Carolene Mays, 

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Steve Stemler, D-Jeffersonville, said he 
asked the committee to add the provision because the federal Food and 
Drug Administration puts methadone -- which is used to treat 
addictions of heroin, OxyContin and other drugs -- in the same 
classification as those medicines used for outpatient surgeries or procedures.

In those cases, hospitals or medical centers require designated drivers.

John Dattilo, who lives near the Southern Indiana Treatment Center, 
which recently moved from downtown Jeffersonville to a site just 
outside the city in Clark County, testified that he's concerned about 
the safety of his family and others who are on the road with hundreds 
of methadone users daily.

"It's all about safety to me," he said. "We need help. We do need to 
put some restrictions on this."

But Tim Bohman, regional manager for CRC Health, which owns the 
treatment center on Charlestown Pike, said patients have a high 
tolerance for opiates and therefore can function normally after treatment.

The bill already has passed the Senate, although without the 
designated-driver requirement. It would require the Indiana Family 
and Social Services Administration to adopt new rules to regulate 
clinics and require state approval for all patients who would receive 
more than 14 take-home doses of the drug.

The House committee approved another amendment yesterday requiring 
clinics to test patients for marijuana use.

Indiana's methadone clinics serve more than 10,000 patients annually, 
with more than half coming from other states. Critics say that's 
because Indiana has some of the loosest clinic regulations in the nation.

Neighboring states -- including Kentucky -- test for marijuana and 
limit take-home doses, said Vicki Conlin of Jeffersonville, who had 
an addicted relative who got methadone treatments.

The Clark County clinic is the state's second largest, serving nearly 
2,000 patients in 2005. About two-thirds of those patients came from Kentucky.

Stemler said that's part of the reason for the bill -- to make sure 
Indiana isn't attracting addicts from other places simply because its 
regulations aren't strong enough.

But the committee did not act on a proposed amendment by Rep. Terry 
Goodin, D-Crothersville, that would have banned patients from 
bringing children to treatment centers.

Clark County Commissioner Michael Moore testified for the amendment. 
He told the committee that too many of the clinic's patients have 
their children with them when they come in early in the morning to 
receive treatments.

Moore said many of those patients come to a restaurant he owns before 
or after their appointments and often fall asleep or act erratically.

"This is the kind of behavior that would make most social-service 
agencies jump in and act," Moore said.

But Rep. John Day, D-Indianapolis, said he was worried about a single 
mother who might have to miss an appointment if she couldn't bring 
her children.

"That's a very real dilemma," Day said.

Moore said that's a problem that the clinic should address.

Goodin withdrew the amendment because it did not have enough support 
for approval but said he plans to offer a similar proposal later. 
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