Opioids and Indiana: Drug Expert Says The State Could Do More

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Opioids and Indiana: Drug Expert Says The State Could Do More

INDIANAPOLIS--Indiana can do more to keep people from getting addicted to opioids and to help treat people who are addicted, said a study from the National Safety Council. The state General Assembly passed several laws this year to help. But, the Healthcare Leadership Council's "Opioid Roadmap for Action" points out more actions the state could take to save people's lives.

"Putting limits on prescriptions of these opioids-rather than having a 30 or 90 day prescription, limiting it to seven days," said Mary Grealy, president of the Healthcare Leadership Council.

A law passed this year requires doctors to check a database before prescribing more opiates to a patient asking for a refill, to check how many times that person has been prescribed opioids.

Grealy said she believes healthcare providers should also ask the patient to come back, to make sure it's appropriate for that patient to continue on the medication.

"We're also asking for research into various types of alternative therapies to control pain," said Grealy, suggesting that Indiana's state legislature might encourage it, but that it could also be a product of an effort by the medical community.

She cited a clinic in Cleveland as an example. That clinic, she said, is using a nerve blocker, rather than painkillers, immediately after back surgery.

Grealy said part of their mission is to encourage states to make sure addiction treatment is covered by Medicaid.

"We know that private health plans are stepping up and providing coverage for this treatment because they want to make sure that they get that person back to full health because they're going to be paying for that treatment one way or another," said Grealy.

She said states and private health care providers could also keep better track of opioid prescriptions by using e-scrips, or electronic prescriptions.

Grealy said some measures the Council is recommending require new laws or oversight by state lawmakers. But, others can be adopted without legislation.

PHOTO: Thinkstock/Backyard Productions

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