Statement as issued Friday by the Indiana Attorney General’s Office:
INDIANAPOLIS – The Medical Licensing Board of Indiana voted Thursday to adopt a new rule concerning physicians who prescribe addictive pain medications to nonterminal patients.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said the rule aims to ensure patients are well informed about their prescriptions and physicians closely monitor patients to identify cases of misuse and abuse. A recent study by Trust for America’s Health revealed the number of deaths caused by overdoses in Indiana has quadrupled since 1999.
This year, the Indiana General Assembly passed legislation charging the board with developing new rules regarding prescribing controlled substances and strengthening the authority of the Attorney General’s office to inspect physician records in overprescribing cases. The two emergency rules stem in part from recommendations made by the Indiana Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force which Zoeller launched last year.
“Thanks to the hard work by the state’s Medical Licensing Board and to the Indiana Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force, Indiana is making great strides in the battle against prescription drug abuse,” Zoeller said. “By ensuring physicians are educating and closely monitoring patients and Hoosier patients are well informed, we can help stop cases of doctor shopping and even overprescribing.”
Beginning Dec. 15, physicians will be required to monitor certain patient’s history via the state’s drug monitoring system called INSPECT which reveals what medications have been prescribed to a patient. Zoeller said this check can prevent someone from “doctor shopping” or obtaining multiple prescriptions for the same drug from different physicians.
The board also adopted a new rule giving the Attorney General’s office the ability to more efficiently review physician records regarding controlled substances. Zoeller said this helps his office during investigations of physicians who may be overprescribing.
Since January of last year, Zoeller’s office has filed complaints or summary suspensions against more than 15 doctors for overprescribing.
The goal of the task force is to significantly reduce the abuse of controlled prescription drugs and to decrease the number of deaths associated with these drugs in Indiana. The task force also makes recommendations for new rules, regulations and state statutes to the Indiana General Assembly.
The task force in conjunction with the Indiana State Medical Association will soon release a physician toolkit which will help doctors navigate the new emergency rules. Zoeller’s office will also host the fourth annual Prescription Drug Abuse Symposium on Nov. 1 where health officials will discuss Indiana’s prescription drug abuse epidemic and learn more about the impact of the new rules.
Zoeller also thanked the Indiana State Medical Association for their work on developing the emergency rules and physician toolkit.
This year, Zoeller and the task force launched a new website, www.BitterPill.IN.gov, and a statewide public awareness campaign which includes radio and TV commercials about prescription drug abuse. The website serves as a one-stop-shop for consumers to find information about the epidemic and how to get help.