YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s new prescription guidelines limiting painkillers to a seven-day supply has chronic pain sufferers worried.
The state is trying to slow an epidemic that killed a record 3,050 Ohioans last year. There’s a belief that drug addictions start on short-term painkillers before graduating to heroin.
The new guidelines haven’t gone into effect yet but when they do, it will mean big changes at the pharmacy. But pharmacist A.J. Caraballo said people suffering from long-term, chronic pain aren’t the ones these lawmakers are looking at.
“They’re specifically looking at overprescribing for say, like, a broken finger.”
That’s acute pain, which should resolve in a reasonable time. Kasich felt some doctors might have been writing prescriptions that were unnecessarily long for people with short-term pain.
“There’s no need to be prescribing pills for longer than that anticipated period and that’s kind of where the crackdown’s coming,” Caraballo said.
An unfinished pill supply can wind up in the wrong hands.
The state started the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System (OARRS) database where every pharmacy is required to submit dispensing data at the end of each day. This is a safeguard to make sure patients aren’t getting too many painkillers for short-term pain.
“You know whether they’re having issues with multiple doctors, multiple pharmacy shopping,” pharmacist Dan Wearsch said.
Pennsylvania is just starting to put a similar system in place.
Throughout the health care system, information is key. Just receiving a prescription to dispense pills, pharmacists can be put in a difficult position.
Wearsch said it’s hard to help patients when they don’t know the full picture of their pain and the relief process their doctor put in place.
“We do like to counsel our patients on proper use, we do like to counsel them that these medications can be addictive,” Caraballo said. The counseling is made easier when we have all of the pieces to the puzzle, including why they’re taking it in the first place.”
The new guidelines in Ohio will require doctors to submit a diagnosis code identifying the condition for which they’re prescribing. Caraballo said that will help pharmacists out.
“We think we’re going to be able to better serve, better counsel patients. If we know Mrs. Jones is taking this for back pain as opposed to Mrs. Jones is taking this for a knee injury, we’ll be able to see that on the prescription now.”
The change will go into effect as soon as it’s approved by the State Medical Board, Board of Nursing, Board of Pharmacy, and Dental Board.