Gov. John Kasich is setting in motion his administration's plan to cut down on opiate prescriptions and, in doing so, chip away at the state's far-reaching addiction and overdose crisis.
Kasich's plan, announced yesterday, caps prescription painkillers like morphine at seven-day supplies for adults and five-day supplies for children. The idea is to keep patients tethered close to the hospital, rather than cutting them loose with enough pills to generate an addiction. That said, Kasich's plan would also allow physicians to go above and beyond the limits for certain identified reasons.
The marquee takeaway from Kasich's news conference was that he and state health officials estimate 109 million fewer opiate doses prescribed annually. The most recent numbers show that 3,050 people overdosed and died in Ohio in 2015.
One of the primary funnels for people (across a wide spectrum of demographics, mind you) ending up on the wrong end of opiate addiction is physicians' long-running record of over-prescribing pain pills
In the Statehouse, meanwhile, newly introduced Senate Bill 119 and House Bill 167 propose a more stringent route, capping morphine prescriptions at 50 mg per day for a three-day block and imposing training quotas on any physician who would seek to prescribe beyond the limit.
Lawmakers also suggest naltrexone (Vivitrol) as an option at all treatment centers. Vivitrol blocks opioid receptors in the brain, effectively canceling out the synaptic addiction for one month at a time. That monthly injection can run up to $1,000, however, keeping it out of reach for many people.