|Start Date: ||4/11/2014|| Start Time: ||12:00 AM|
New laws could help Indiana gain ground
in battle against prescription drug abuse
Indianapolis, Ind. – Indiana’s Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force and a series of new laws are focused on the state’s prescription drug abuse epidemic.
Task force member State Representative Steve Davisson, who serves as Chairman of the Take-Back Committee, has worked diligently to develop Task Force legislative initiatives and shepherd these initiatives through the General Assembly.
“The Attorney General and my fellow Task Force members have developed a multi-faceted approach to save lives and halt the epidemic of prescription drug abuse in our state,” said Rep. Davisson. “While I am impressed with all the work that has been done to combat prescription drug abuse in our state, I am looking forward to continuing our work to make Indiana safer and healthier.”
According to the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH), 718 Hoosiers died from accidental drug overdoses in 2011, compared to 654 deaths the year before. The National Institute on Drug Abuse said more people abuse prescription drugs in the U.S. than cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens and inhalants combined.
In 2012, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller launched the task force which is made up of state legislators, law enforcement, members of the medical community, health officials, pharmacists, state and local agencies and education providers. Members are dedicated to reducing the abuse of controlled prescription drugs an decreasing the number of deaths associated with these drugs in Indiana.
The task force, alongside Zoeller, successfully pushed for legislative initiatives this year including:
- Cutting down on prescription drug abuse: Currently, pharmacies licensed to dispense drugs in Indiana are required to submit controlled substance prescription information to a statewide database called INSPECT every seven days. Under a new law, pharmacists will upload the data within 3 days beginning 2015 and within 24 hours beginning in 2016. This change narrows the window of opportunity for addicts to wrongfully fill a prescription multiple times.
- Improving access to mental health and addiction treatment services: ISDH reports a statewide shortage of mental health professionals and addiction treatment professionals. A new law offers student-loan forgiveness grants to psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, addiction counselors and mental health professionals who pursue addiction training in behavioral health and addiction psychiatry.
- Curbing instances of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS): Newborns exposed to prescription or illicit drugs while in the womb suffer withdrawal symptoms including respiratory complications, low birth weight, feeding difficulties and seizures. Under a new law, the ISDH will collaborate to determine best practices for physicians treating NAS and establish a standard reporting method for these types of cases. This legislation is a critical first step in determining the scope of the problem and ultimately, help direct more resources to these children and their mothers.
- Assisting opioid drug overdose victims: A new law encourages emergency first responders – including law enforcement and firefighters – to be equipped with Naloxone, a medication that reverses the effects of an opioid drug overdose. Opioids include drugs like heroin, oxycodone and methadone. The measure also removes legal barriers to first responders utilizing the antidote to save lives.
For more information about the task force or the state’s public awareness campaign targeting prescription drug abuse visit www.BitterPill.in.gov.