COLUMBUS—With National Recovery Month in full swing, State Representatives Robert Sprague (R-Findlay) and Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) held a news conference this morning to urge quick action on H.B. 248, their bill to compel health insurance companies to cover the cost of opioid pain medications formulated with abuse deterrent properties. The bill is currently before the House Health and Aging Committee.
The legislators were joined by a wide array of supporters representing the medical community, addiction services providers, law enforcement, and community leaders. Dr. Elizabeth Lottes, Maryhaven Research Institute noted, "Abuse deterrent properties make a pain pill harder to crush or melt and therefore harder to abuse. When the FDA approved the first abuse-deterrent formulation, data show instances of snorting or injecting that particular drug dropped by as much as 70 percent. This is a tool we need in the fight against opioid addiction."
Representative Sprague said, "According to the most recent state statistics, there were 2,110 overdose deaths in 2013. Despite the best efforts of our behavioral health community and our law enforcement, the numbers just keep rising. By making tamper-resistant pain drugs more widely available, we can begin to turn that around."
Representative Antonio explained that insurance companies sometimes decline to pay for the abuse-deterrent form of an opioid drug because similar drugs without tamper-resistance properties are less expensive.
"People who abuse prescription pain pills are more likely to end up in the hospital and more likely to need outpatient treatment," she pointed out. "If we can prevent abuse, prevent an overdose, we can save those costs. So H.B. 248 is a good financial strategy as well as being a way to help save lives and keep families from suffering the consequences of drug abuse."
“For patients who need pain medication, it is impossible for prescribers to know if these medications might end up in the hands of an abuser,” said Delaware County Sheriff Russell Martin. “The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 70 percent of medications that are abused are stolen, given away or somehow diverted from the patient who actually needs the prescriptions for a medical reason.”
September is National Recovery Month. The observance began in 1989 to raise awareness that effective treatment can help those suffering from addiction and behavioral health issues to lead healthy and productive lives. More information is available at: http://www.recoverymonth.gov/recovery-month/about-recovery-month.