An opioid epidemic continues to plague our state and the rest of the nation, affecting individuals, families and entire communities in the process.
In 2016 alone, 488 Hoosiers died of an opioid-pain-reliever overdose, an almost 2,000-percent increase compared to the number of deaths in 2000, according to data released by the Indiana State Department of Health.
Illegal substances are a factor in this epidemic, but prescription drugs are also to blame. Doctors prescribe opioids for patients managing chronic pain, but many become addicted to these powerful drugs. Often, those who become addicted to prescription opioids will seek prescriptions from different doctors in order to increase their supply of pills. Unfortunately, addiction to painkillers is often what drives people to use heroin.
In 2016, 6.4 million opioid prescriptions were reported to INSPECT, Indiana’s prescription-monitoring service, ranking our state 11th in the nation for opioid prescriptions per population.
In response to this issue, one of my colleagues authored Senate Bill 221 this session, which is a part of our ongoing effort to fight opioid abuse as well as a part of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s and the Senate Republicans’ legislative agendas.
SB 221 would phase in a requirement for doctors to check INSPECT when prescribing opioids to a patient, which would help prescribers know if a patient already has an opioid prescription from another provider or if a patient has a history of excessive opioid use.
Last session, the Senate passed a similar bill to require prescribers to check INSPECT. Members of the medical community believed it would slow down appointments with patients, and the bill did not become law.
To resolve this issue, Gov. Holcomb and the Professional Licensing Agency began an initiative to fund the integration of INSPECT into electronic health records, which allows prescribers to check INSPECT with one click once they pull up a patient’s health records.
As always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns about these or other issues, contact my office by phone at 800-382-9467 or by email at Senator.Long@iga.in.gov.
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