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November Legislative Update: HB 547 & OH Rx Drug Task Force,

Ohio Prescription Drug Task Force Report

As I’m sure all of you are aware, Ohio is in the middle of a drug epidemic.  Unintentional drug overdoses have surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of death in Ohio. 

In an effort to address this problem, Governor Strickland established the Ohio Prescription Drug Task Force (OPDTF) in April of 2010.  The Task Force was charged with making recommendations to the Governor and the legislature on how to address the issue of prescription drug abuse. 

The Task Force used HB 547, a bill that would enact licensing requirements for pain management clinics, as a basis for discussion.  The Task Force was divided into four smaller working groups where volunteers were appointed to join in the process:  Public Health, Treatment, Regulatory and Law Enforcement.  Each work group was to identify priorities in their area and submit a report to the OPDTF.  Public Health focused on public awareness, education in schools, development of local coalitions and improved data collection. Treatment addressed expanding access to treatment for addiction to prescription drugs, education of health care providers and prescribing guidelines, Regulatory’s emphasis was on policy and legislative changes needed. Law Enforcement focused on improving law enforcement response to this issue. 

OPA had pharmacist and staff representation on all four work groups.  Many ideas were brought forward during the many hours of work group meetings and OPA worked very hard to ensure that pharmacy’s interest was represented and that good common sense recommendations were included in the final report.  Some of the recommendations that affect pharmacy follow.

  • Enhancing and strengthening current reporting requirements of licensed healthcare professionals (i.e., physicians, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, veterinarians) who reasonably suspect other healthcare providers are committing prescription drug violations, including the requirement of inter-disciplinary reporting.
  • Implementing an efficient reporting process for physicians and other healthcare professionals wanting to report “doctor shopping” or abuse to law enforcement. An efficient reporting process would emphasize the vital role that healthcare professionals can play in cooperation with local law enforcement.
  • Requiring all licensees permitted to prescribe prescription narcotics to use a standardized, tamper resistant prescription pad or standardized electronic prescribing.
  • Redesign the Medicaid Lock-in program.
  • Enable state agencies to create medication lock-in programs.
  •  Implement changes to OARRS  including:
    • registration, reporting and data requirements;
    • changes to access and information sharing;
    • implementing a red flag system;
    • encouraging increased education on pain management and drug abuse.

OPA would like to thank all the pharmacists who participated on the various work groups and who worked on composing this report.  Your time and effort is very much appreciated.  We were able to make a major impact on the 75-page report, and you should be proud of your work.  Our whole staff was involved, with Kelly Vyzral and Antonio Ciaccia both taking active roles on the subcommittees, and  Ernie Boyd acting as Chairman of the Regulatory Subcommittee.

If you would like to read the entire report it can be found at the link below. 

HB 547:  Narcotics Abuse Prevention Act

State Representatives Ray Pryor (D-Chillicothe) and Nancy Garland (D-New Albany) have introduced legislation aimed at helping stop the growing abuse of prescription drugs.  HB 547 will establish licensing requirements for pain management clinics and modify the laws governing OARRS (Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System).  The legislation will also do the following.

Require the State Medical Board to adopt rules specifying when a prescriber is required to review information in OARRS.

Clearly define a “pain management clinic” as a facility at which the majority of patients are provided treatment for chronic pain with the use of controlled substances or with the use of tramadol.

Establish strict guidelines for the operation of a pain management clinic.

  • Require a person seeking licensure as a terminal distributor of dangerous drugs to meet additional requirements if the person works for a pain management clinic.
  •  Require any person working for a pain management clinic to be licensed as a terminal distributor of dangerous drugs.
  •  Require background checks for owners and employees of a pain management clinic.

This bill is part of a larger effort across the state to address the issue of prescription drug abuse.  OPA has been active in the working group that put this bill together. We will continue to work with the bill’s sponsors and the Board of Pharmacy as it moves through the legislature.  Hearings on this bill will probably not begin until after the November elections.  There is some resistance from physicians to the idea of licensing requirements.

If you have any questions or comments about the issues mentioned in this article, please contact Kelly Vyzral, Director of Government Affairs, at 614.586.1497 or

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