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Health and Medicine

Ohio Sen. Brown's bill would lift limits on drug addicts doctors can treat
Limits were set when methadone -- which requires nearly daily oversight -- was the only medication treatment for heroin addiction

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
Brown says Ohio had nearly five people a day die of accidential drug overdoses in 2012, about two thirds of which invovled opioids.
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Ohio’s U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown introduced a bill today that would more than triple the number of drug-addicted patients some doctors can treat. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more on the call to lift a decades’-old limit.

LISTEN: Doctor says fighting opiate addition requires more doctors to see more patients

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Federal restrictions now limit doctors to treating 30 patients for their addiction the first year, and no more than 100 after that. The Recovery Enhancement for Addition Treatment Act would lift that to 100 the first year and, after that, eliminate the limits for doctors with special training, certification and permissions. 

A Marion doctor, Mark Piacentini, says the limits are one reason less than 40 percent of people with drug addiction are getting medication-assisted therapy. And Piacentini says there aren’t enough doctors to go around. 

“There’s a lot of reasons physicians do not want to help with this population because they’re very difficult to treat. There’s  a lot of lying and lying, manipulation; they’ve broken a lot of bridges and so it takes a lot of time lot of time to work with these people. The need is probably 500. … But if I have (even) 30 more spots or 100 more spots, it reaches throughout the entire community.”

Piacentini calls many of his patients “beautiful people to work with” as they try to get clean. Nearly 2,000 Ohioans died of unintentional drug overdoses in 2012.

CLICK HERE for the 2012 numbers on accidental drug overdose deaths in Ohio by county



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