State Senator John Eklund (R-Munson Township) today announced the Senate's passage of new reforms aimed at tackling Ohio's opiate addiction epidemic by enhancing oversight and addressing the issue of over-prescribing. 

"This legislation continues Ohio's commitment to combat drug addictions that devastate far too many Ohio families," said Senator Eklund, the bill's primary sponsor. "By plugging the leaks in the system , we can significantly reduce the illicit supply of opiates."

Senate Bill 319 includes provisions to ensure responsible opiate treatment for Ohioans struggling with addiction. The legislation requires that addiction treatment facilities treating 30 or more individuals with Suboxone be licensed by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy. The licensure requirement seeks to increase accountability and prevent the misuse of Suboxone, which can be part of an effective treatment plan to deter opiate dependence.

The legislation also increases access to methadone clinics where medication-assisted treatment is made available in a highly regulated environment. Eklund's bill maintains the high level of accountability while waiving legal requirements limiting addiction treatment professionals from opening new clinics. 

Other provisions in the bill require pharmacy technicians to register with the Board of Pharmacy. Since 2013, more than one-third of all drug theft cases investigated by the Pharmacy Board involved pharmacy technicians. Mandatory pharmacy technician registration ensures uniform background checks establish consistent continuing education competencies. 

The legislation creates new oversight for purchasing and distributing controlled substances and closes loopholes by requiring all healthcare providers who store, administer and dispense controlled substances from their facilities to obtain licensure from the Pharmacy Board. Added oversight will help to provide safeguards to prevent theft or misuse of highly addictive substances.

Senator Eklund's legislation also restricts high-volume prescriptions in an effort to prevent medication misuse. Current law provides no limitation on the amount of opiate pills that may be dispensed through a single prescription. New reforms limit prescriptions to a 90-day supply for any opiate prescription that a patient may receive. Additionally, the legislation would invalidate any opiate prescription not used within 30 days. These reforms seek to limit the availability of on-hand opioids, which often fall into the wrong hands.

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“The time has come for public safety and corrections policy to be driven more by data analysis than by guesswork and suppositions,” said Senator Eklund. “Part of that analysis must factor in the very real impacts that behavioral health issues and the current drug crisis are having on the system."