Indiana officials change rules in effort to reduce overdoses - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Indiana officials change rules in effort to reduce overdoses

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - You may have to sign a contract with your doctor or take a drug test the next time you need a prescription. New rules are taking effect in Indiana.

Monday morning marked a major change in Dr. Deepak Azad's small Scottsburg, Ind. office.

"It's more of a hurdle for the practices because, to see more patients is going to take more time," Dr. Azad said.

The hurdle for this internist and every other physician in Indiana: strict new rules on how to prescribe powerful narcotics to chronic pain sufferers. Among the changes: patients getting drugs like opana, oxycodone or hydrocodone must sign a "treatment agreement," a contract with their doctor saying they'll only see one physician and use one pharmacy for these drugs.

Doctors must now cross-reference with the state's prescription tracking system, INSPECT, and physically check their patients' pill count before issuing refills.

Chronic pain patients must also submit to drug tests.

"I 110-percent agree with it," Dr. Azad said. "In the past, more medication prescribed to the patient has ended up on the street."

The emergency ruling from the Indiana Medical Licensing Board follows trouble at one former Jeffersonville pain clinic. Dr. Lea Marlow, now in federal prison after writing 8,000 prescriptions for oxycodone in less than a year.

State Senator Ron Grooms authored the bill that forced the medical board to act.

"That's what was happening: patients were not being treated properly for pain," Ind. Sen. Grooms said. "They were being maintained simply for profit."

Still, some say the order goes too far, treating people suffering from arthritis like addicts.

"The only patient that this really impacts is the one that's abusing their privileges and the doctors doing the same," Grooms said.

"I want to listen to their worries and their questions," Azad said.

Dr. Azad is creating handouts telling his patients what's to come -- what he calls, "the right prescription."

"In the U.S., every 25 minutes, somebody is dying because of a drug overdose," Azad said.

A recent report listed Indiana as one of the top 20 states in the U.S. for drug overdose deaths.

The emergency order from the medical board took effect Dec. 15.

Physicians who don't comply could see their license come under review.

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