The pill mill bill now moves to the Ohio Senate after the House voted unanimously this week to approve the bill that will hopefully, effectively fight the devastating epidemic of prescription drug abuse in the state.
One of the House members, Representative Terry Johnson, worked as the Scioto County coroner before his election to the House. In that role, Johnson saw how prescription drug addiction was destroying the lives of many in his community. Deaths from overdoses increased a shocking 360 percent between 1999 and 2008 in Scioto County.
“That got me into a sad and dark, ugly underbelly of a part of Appalachia that few of you could even imagine,” said Johnson. “For the last three years as county coroner, I saw 23 every year of my friends, neighbors and colleagues who died from this scourge. And that’s the tip of the iceberg.”
In Scioto County alone, physicians and pharmacists dispensed 9.7 million doses of prescription pain medications in 2010. That is a startling 123 pills for every adult and child in the county. The proposed bill would bolster reporting requirements for physicians, establish a clearer definition of “pain management clinic” and require the Ohio Medical Board to develop strict operating standards for these clinics. The bill would also limit physicians to dispensing 2,500 doses of prescription drugs in a 30 day period.
“The time for talk has ended. The time for action has begun,” said Representative Dave Burke, a pharmacist who jointly sponsored the bill.
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