Ohio bill seeks to curb prescription painkiller abuse, overdose deaths

According to the Columbus Daily Reporter (sub req.), bi-partisan legislation was introduced in the Ohio House in June that seeks to curb abuse of prescription opioid pain killers and death by accidental overdose. HB 248, sponsored by Robert Sprague, R-Findlay and Nickie Antonio, D-Lakewood, would require certain health insurers as well as Medicaid to provide coverage for abuse-deterrent versions of “opioid analgesic drugs.”

The FDA issued guidance about abuse-deterrent drugs in April, stating that they are designed to "meaningfully deter abuse, even if they do not fully prevent abuse." Some deterrent measures include adding physical barriers to crushing the drugs, adding opioid antagonists to interfere with the feeling of euphoria associated with the drug and increasing aversion by adding substances making it unpleasant to misuse the drug.

According to Rep. Antonio, Ohio dispensed roughly 80 million doses of prescription opioids in 2003, and by 2013 the number had increased to 828 million. She points to this significant increase as contributing to addiction problems and increasing unintentional deaths by overdose in Ohio. Antonio informed the House committee considering the bill that from 2012-2013 the number of overdoses increased by 10% and that of the 2013 overdose deaths, 72% were related to opioids and half of those were from prescription narcotics. She stated that this not only affects the individuals and their families, but the state as a whole, creating significant medical, work loss and quality of life costs. According to the article, death by overdose has been the number one cause of accidental death in Ohio since 2007.

LSC analysis for the bill indicates that it would apply to health insuring corporations, sickness and accident insurers, multiple employer welfare arrangements, public employee benefit plans and the medicaid program, but not private employers that self-insure benefits programs. It was introduced June 8 and is currently pending in the Health and Aging Committee.

Subscribers to the law library who would like us to track this or other legislation for you should contact our reference staff at reference@cms.hamilton-co.org.

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