Access to treatment a concern after opiate limits implemented
CINCINNATI (Angenette Levy) - Gov. John Kasich signed into law new limits on doctors who prescribe opiates last week but those who treat heroin addicts say it's just a small piece in a complicated puzzle.
The limits were designed to address Ohio's heroin epidemic. Doctors can no longer prescribe opiates to adults for seven days and no longer than five days for minors. Doctors must provide a reason for prescribing the drug in a patient's record if the prescription exceeds the new limits. And the prescription will be entered into a statewide database.
"Know what happens to the doctor? They lose their license, you are going to have to abide by those decisions , if you don't you are in serious trouble," Gov. Kasich said in a stern warning last week.
But Dr. Shawn Ryan, who owns the outpatient clinic BrightView said the bill doesn't address the needs of people who are currently fighting heroin addiction.
"It doesn't in any way, shape or form address the current demand for opioids - illicit or prescribed," Dr. Ryan said.
While the number of opiates prescribed in Ohio has been reduced by 20%, Dr. Ryan said overdose deaths have actually increased. Numbers from the Ohio Dept. of Health support his claim.
Nan Franks of the Addiction Services Council of Cincinnati echoed the concerns about the lack of focus on treatment. She also has other concerns about the law.
"There is some concern that as we dry up this one avenue of getting pain pills which is great but that the business of drug sales on the street will shift to what's called more street initiation."
The crime lab has already found fentanyl in some cocaine in Hamilton County. Some in law enforcement believe dealers may be trying to get their customers hooked on their product by mixing it with fentanyl.
Meanwhile, Dr. Ryan would like to see access to treatment increased for addicts which is costly.
"We have way too many Ohioans who are currently dependent or addicted to opiods and to address that it has to be treatment. It can't be just a reduction in the prescribing," Dr. Ryan said.
The new prescription limits do not impact patients who are dealing with illnesses such as cancer or who are receiving end-of-life care.
Anyone looking for help to get into treatment can call the Addiction Services Council at 513.281.7880. The line is answered 24 hours a day.