Trust issues: Bill requires OH to issue drug fact sheets


FACT SHEET: Under an Ohio bill, the government will write a drug fact sheet for your doctor to give you when prescribing certain opioids.

By Maggie Thurber | for Ohio Watchdog

It comes down to trust.

But whom does one trust when it comes to getting the best information about prescription drugs? Your doctor? The state?

Well, it’s the state, according to a bill introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives.

House Bill 359 would require the Ohio Department of Health to create a one-page information sheet about opioids that doctors give patients whenever prescribing or administering the drugs.

Dentists, nurses, physician assistants and optometrists also would dispense the state-created form when prescribing a schedule II drug or a drug containing opioids, such as heroin, OxyContin, Vicodin, morphine and methadone.

“It’s just a plain-English statement given at the time that the physician writes the prescription that would allow (patients) to understand some of the risks and things not to do with the medication … so they don’t run into trouble,” Rep. Robert Sprague, R-Findlay, said during his sponsor testimony on the bill.

But pharmacies are already required, under Ohio law, to hand out such information when filling such prescriptions.

In government, redundancy is better.

Last summer, a special study committee traveled the state learning about Ohio’s opioid use epidemic, as they called it.

According to Sprague, “drug overdose has now surpassed traffic accidents to become the leading cause of accidental death in Ohio, and prescription opioids account for more deaths than cocaine and heroin combined.”

As a result, the House introduced nine bills dealing with opioid abuse. Five of those bills, including H.B. 359, are pending in committees, and four were approved by the House and sent to the Senate for consideration.

Sprague said his bill was “an effort to make sure the medical system is actively and appropriately educating patients and the citizens of Ohio about the dangers of overdose. We just want to make a proactive attempt to make sure that people understand that these medications are powerful and useful for blocking pain, but also carry with them an enormous responsibility for the patients.”

As if their doctors and pharmacists don’t already warn people about that.

So who will be writing this one-page government fact sheet?

A lawyer.

That’s right, the newly appointed interim director of DOH is Lance D. Himes, an attorney with the department for more than 10 years, where his work focused on environmental health and compliance issues. He replaced Dr. Ted Wymyslo, who returned to private medical practice.

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