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00000174-c556-d691-a376-cdd69e980000Day after day, week after week, the headlines in Northeast Ohio and across much of the country contain news of tragic loss: lives lost to opioids. It’s a problem that knows no bounds: geography, race, gender, level of education or income.The problem took on new urgency this summer as the powerful elephant sedative, Carfentanil, began hitting the streets. First responders armed with their only weapon, the overdose antidote Naloxone, have struggled to keep up with what’s become an overwhelming problem. It’s an issue that’s straining public and social resources. What has become clear is that business as usual is not going to fix the problem.WKSU news has been covering the unfolding crisis. Tuesdays during Morning Edition, the WKSU news team digs even deeper. WKSU reporters will examine what’s led us here and what might be done to turn the tide. Support for Opioids: Turning the Tide in the Crisis comes from Wayne Savings Community Bank, Kent State University Office of Continuing and Distance Education, Hometown Grocery Delivery, Mercy Medical Center, AxessPointe Community Health Center, Community Support Services, Inc., Medina County District Library and Hudson Community First.00000174-c556-d691-a376-cdd69e980001

New Bill Aims to Curb Over-Prescribing of Opioids

photo of Hackett, Edwards, Weidle and Householder
Scott Weidle (third from right), who lost his son to an opioid overdose, says new guidelines are needed to combat the opiate crisis.

Ohio lawmakers are pushing a bill they think will reduce opioid overdose deaths by setting prescribing guidelines for doctors and dentists.

Every day in Ohio, eight people die from opioid overdoses, according to the latest data from the Ohio Department of Health. And each day, 84 infants are treated for drug withdrawal in Ohio hospitals. Some Republicans are hoping a bill they are sponsoring will lower those numbers.

Changing current guidelines
Right now, state guidelines on painkiller prescriptions allow for 144 pills for a three-month period. The bill would change the state’s prescription guidelines to mirror the federal recommendations and allow up to 24 pills over three months. Former state lawmaker Lynn Wachtmann is among those supporting the idea, which he says is working in other states.

“This bill is the first great start, an important start and really, to me, the easiest part of this solution and that is, again, shutting down the pipeline of future addiction with people.”

The bill would also require dentists and doctors who prescribe opioids to go through at least eight hours of training. Scott Weidle of the Dayton area is still mourning his son Daniel, a 30 year old father of three who died from an opioid overdose in 2015. Weidle says new guidelines are desperately needed.

“The Ohio opiate guidelines sets no threshold limits. Having no threshold would be like having no speed limit requirement on the public roadways. That would be like allowing everyone who passed their driver’s training course and received their Ohio driver’s license to use their own judgment to determine what the safe speed limit should be on Ohio’s roadways.”

A word of caution
But doctors are urging caution. Reggie Fields with the Ohio State Medical Association says not all patients have the same needs, so he says lawmakers need to give doctors the ability to dose patients differently.

“Something like this to put some guidelines in place is I think a very fair thing to try to put in place but we need to make sure that we allow that discretion for the physician community so that an individual patient will still be assured that they are receiving the best possible care available.”

Gov. John Kasich is poised to offer his own plan to address opioid abuse in Ohio soon.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment. Jo started her career in Louisville, Kentucky in the mid 80’s when she helped produce a televised presidential debate for ABC News, worked for a creative services company and served as a general assignment report for a commercial radio station. In 1989, she returned back to her native Ohio to work at the WOSU Stations in Columbus where she began a long resume in public radio.