COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – The state wants to keep a close eye on who is taking pain pills and which doctors are prescribing them.
As part of that effort, the state Pharmacy Board has identified 12,000 doctors that it says are not using the prescription reporting system properly or may not even be registered.
“It really is unprecedented to see that number of physicians targeted to comply with the law,” said Dr. Ryan Nagy.
A 2015 law requires doctors to check patients’ prescription histories against a state website before recommending prescription painkillers. The list of physicians who aren’t registered with the Ohio Automated RX Reporting System or aren’t using it correctly have been turned over to the state Medical Board.
That includes 45 doctors who prescribed painkillers to more than 200 patients without running the required checks.
The system is set up to stop doctor shopping.
“They may be doing that to me and then going to a back specialist and getting more medication, so they may be going to four to five different physicians and using several different pharmacies, so no one really had a clear picture to how they were getting so many drugs,” said Dr. Tom Albani.
The Pharmacy Board found 7,500 patients had gotten drugs from the top 25 doctors on the list, including one doctor who wrote 700 prescriptions in one month without doing any checks. The Medical Board plans to begin an education campaign to address minor or technical issues.
“Now they’re going around and saying, ‘Hey, we got the system in place. You’ve got your information, so now you just need to make sure you’re doing this on a regular basis,'” Albani said.
Doctors say the site is easy to use and read, but it takes time for the system to update by the time the drug is prescribed and the person picks up the medication.
Ohio is dealing with a drug epidemic which many believe started because it was so easy to get opiods.
“It’s something that we have to do better at. I know that our group has changed its prescribing habits to decrease the number of opiates we’re sending people out with, if it’s not needed, as opposed to just having the just-in-case approach,” said Dr. Nagy.
The 12,000 doctors receiving warnings accounts for about 33 percent of doctors in the state. The Ohio State Medical Association believes most are following the law, but a serious violator could get their medical license suspended or even taken away.