The Story Behind Ohio’s New Limit Of Seven Days For Opioid Prescriptions

On Thursday, Governor John Kasich of Ohio approved new rules which will only allow doctors and other healthcare professionals to prescribe opioids to adults for a maximum of seven days. That figure would drop to five days for teenagers and children. These new opioid limits in Ohio apply to all patients except for those who are suffering from cancer, are in hospice, or are currently patients with addiction issues. However, there is still some wiggle room in Ohio as doctors are able to override the new opioid rule for their patient if the patient’s medical record indicates that opioids beyond seven days would be beneficial.

In addition to the new seven-day rule for opioids, Ohio Governor Kasich has also issued a mandate which would require doctors to give a carefully detailed medical diagnosis for those patients who require opioids, along with inputting a new procedure code each time they write a prescription for opioids.

NBC News reports that Kasich has issued a stern warning to doctors in Ohio, telling them that if they do not follow the new seven-day limit for opioids, as well as the other new rules, they risk losing their licenses.

Governor John Kasich of Ohio has ordered a seven-day limit on opioid prescriptions.
Governor John Kasich of Ohio has ordered a seven-day limit on opioid prescriptions.[Image by Darren McCollester/Getty Images]

In the past, doctors and other healthcare professionals in Ohio were able to write prescriptions for opioids which were good for 90 days. But opinions on opioids have been slowly changing among doctors and politicians, and Ohio’s new seven-day opioid limit follows the introduction of new bills by GOP lawmakers which would aim to change current opioid dosage limits. These new bills by the GOP were introduced to the House and the Senate earlier this week.

Ohio Governor Kasich has applauded the new rules that his state has put in place to combat opioid use and its ensuing addiction for many.

“By reducing the availability of unused prescription opiates, fewer Ohioans will be presented with opportunities to misuse these highly addictive medications.”

This is particularly important as Ohio has been suffering through a huge opioid epidemic, with Columbus seeing at least one death each day due to the particularly strong opioid fentanyl, the drug that was responsible for killing Prince. Fentanyl is reported to be 25 to 50 times more potent than heroin, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

There have been so many opioid deaths in Ohio because of fentanyl that special cold storage trailers even had to be employed at one point in order to hold bodies as the morgues were running out of room in several counties of Ohio.

These new rules that have been put in place for opioid use in Ohio have garnered the approval of the State Medical Board, the Ohio Board of Pharmacy, and also the nursing and dental boards of Ohio. The president of the State Medical Board, Dr. Amol Soin, believes that the new rules will be particularly helpful when it comes to discussing pain management with clients.

“It helps set patient expectations because I can point to something, the rule, and say looking at all the data and evidence out there, this seems to be where we need to be with these pain pills.”

It is estimated that with the seven-day opioid limit, Ohio will now be handing out 109 million less prescriptions than they used to, as reports.

A user of prescription opioids passed out in a library in New England on March 14, 2016.
A user of prescription opioids passed out in a library in New England on March 14, 2016. [Image by John Moore/Getty Images]

Governor John Kasich is quick to point out that the opioid problem Ohio faces won’t be fixed overnight by these new prescription rules, but it is a start.

“It’s a partnership. We’re spending the money, we’re busting the people, the limits are in, the doctor shopping, we’re shutting down the pill mills — all these things are in place. But no one should think this gets completely solved just by people at the Statehouse trying to do something.”

How do you feel about Ohio’s new prescription limit of seven days for opioids, and do you think it will help to prevent deaths?

[Featured Image by John Moore/Getty Images]