Mahoning officials looking to new rules to continue curbing overprescribing opiates


Mahoning County officials hope new rules governing the prescribing of opiate medications will help the county continue an encouraging trend.

“We have seen a real curbing in prescription opioids,” said Brenda Heidinger, associate director for the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board.

State officials say new rules related to acute pain management that went into effect Aug. 31 will further curb the state’s overprescribing trend, which started in the 1990s.

Those rules, detailed in a recent news conference hosted by Gov. John Kasich, establish these limits for doctors prescribing opiates for acute pain:

No more than seven days of opiates can be prescribed for adults.

No more than five days of opiates can be prescribed for minors.

Health care providers can prescribe opiates in excess of the limits only if they provide a specific reason in the patient’s medical record.

Except for certain conditions, the total morphine equivalent dose (MED) of a prescription for acute pain cannot exceed an average of 30 MED per day.

The new limits do not apply to opiates prescribed for cancer, palliative care, end-of-life/hospice care or medication-assisted treatment for addiction.

Prescribers also will be required, beginning Dec. 29, to provide to the state a diagnosis or procedure code for every opiate prescription. Beginning June 1, they will be required to do the same for other controlled-substance prescriptions.

“If you’re a dentist, if you’re a doctor, I don’t care who you are – you violate these guidelines, and the medical board will come after you. You will be disciplined and perhaps even lose your license,” Kasich said at the news conference, where he was joined by the presidents of the state pharmacy, medical, dental and nursing boards. “You [prescribers] have a responsibility to do this the right way.”

Read more about the situation in Saturday's Vindicator or on

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