STATEHOUSE (March 22, 2019) – Legislation sponsored by State Rep. Ben Smaltz (R-Auburn) in an effort to improve office-based opioid treatment centers recently passed unanimously out of the House.
These treatment centers often prescribe Suboxone to patients who are dependent on either prescription or illegal opioids. According to Smaltz, Suboxone, while significantly less addictive than heroin, is considered an addictive synthetic drug, and can be even more addictive when used in combination with other drugs.
“The possibility for abuse is high with patients who are not treated properly, however, it is effective for those following the guidelines of a comprehensive treatment program,” Smaltz said. “To make sure opioid addicts receive the best possible care as they go through an excruciating recovery process, this legislation would provide appropriate guidelines for doctors prescribing this treatment. We want them to become healthy Hoosiers again, and this bill will help with that.”
Senate Bill 141 would implement a commonsense set of guidelines for all doctors and office-based opioid treatment centers to follow, and shares similarities with the state’s Methadone clinics’ structure. Indiana has 19 Methadone clinics, and according to law that number would be capped when it reaches 27 centers. In stark contrast, there are approximately 650 Suboxone clinics across the state. Smaltz said some do not provide such comprehensive care.
According to Smaltz, over the past three years the amount of Medicaid dollars going to Suboxone clinics has risen exponentially. In 2014, $7 million in Medicaid went to help fund treatment centers. In 2017, that number raised to $29 million.
“With these numbers, we fear fraud is being committed in some of the clinics,” Smaltz said. “We cannot afford to sit on our hands with this issue.”
Last year, Smaltz sponsored legislation requiring doctors and pharmacists to check Indiana’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program database before prescribing or dispensing an opioid or benzodiazepine. This proposal would put in place the same requirement for doctors prescribing Suboxone.
“This proposal is another way we can prevent patients from ‘doctor shopping,’ or obtaining controlled substances from doctors without prior knowledge of other prescriptions,” Smaltz said. “By closely monitoring those being prescribed Suboxone, we can begin to stop the abuse of a drug meant to help get people out from under the scourge of opioid addiction.”
Due to an added amendment in the House, the bill now heads back to the Senate before further action.
State Rep. Ben Smaltz (R-Auburn) represents all of
DeKalb County, and portions of Steuben and Allen counties.
A high-resolution photo of Smaltz can be downloaded by clicking here.