By Marc Kovac
Hospice programs would be required to seek out and dispose of unused painkillers, under legislation OK’d this week by the Ohio House.
House Bill 366 passed on a vote of 97-0 and heads to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.
The legislation is the latest law-change proposal pursued by lawmakers to reduce access to the prescription medication.
“Our state is absolutely swimming in opiates,” said Rep. Robert Sprague, R-Findlay, the legislation’s primary sponsor. “In some cases, it’s easier for our children in high school to get opiates — to get heroin — than it is for them to obtain beer.”
Among other provisions, HB 366 would require hospice programs that provide in-home care to establish written procedures and record-keeping requirements to better track and eventually collect and dispose of unused medicine.
Care providers also would have to report suspected diversion of prescription drugs to law enforcement.
Patients or family members who refuse to relinquish unused drugs could face criminal charges. And hospice programs that fail to comply with the new rules could face license-suspensions and fines.
“Most hospice programs that provide home care currently follow a set of procedures to ensure that opioid medications are monitored and disposed of properly once they’re no longer needed,” Sprague said. “[HB 366] will ensure that all home-hospice providers follow a similar set of best practices.”