Lawmakers take on drug crisis as Clark County OD deaths hit record

March 29, 2017

State lawmakers introduced a plan Wednesday to combat the growing drug crisis in Ohio as a record number of Clark County residents died from overdoses last year.

Sen. Bob Hackett, R-London, who represents Clark, Greene and Madison counties, is co-sponsoring the bill that would align Ohio law with guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control.

READ MORE: Clark County to charge addicts who OD and don’t seek treatment

“You have seen the number of Narcan incidents in Clark County. I was with a fire chief there and he said a number of people coming in with this issue are coming from opiate prescriptions first,” Hackett said.

Narcan is the antidote that can halt an overdose of heroin and other drugs and save the life of the user. Hackett’s proposal would place new restrictions on how many pills could be prescribed and the time span over which the patient could receive them. The restrictions would be placed not only on doctors in Ohio but also dentists across the state.

The bill is dubbed “Daniel’s Law” for Daniel Weidle of Germantown, who lost his battle with opiate addiction in 2015. Since then his father, Scott Weidle, has championed the cause to change state laws and limit the prescription of powerful medications.

“Ohio is a leader in the nation is opioid over-prescription and opioid deaths, not a title anyone should be proud of,” Scott Weidle said.

RELATED: Demand for, debate over Narcan soars in Springfield

Advocates claim eight people a day are dying from drug-related deaths.

Scott Weidle said his son’s problems with drugs began with experimentation in high school. Later Daniel Weidle was exposed to prescription opioids.

“He found that to be on the drug that cured some of the things that he maybe was not being treated for, whether it be anxiety or attention deficit, he found that it was something that made him feel better,” Weidle said.

His son’s death on the day after Christmas in 2015 prompted Weidle to dedicate himself to help other families so that they don’t go through the same pain and suffering. One death, he said, affects the lives of many other friends and family members.

DETAILS: Overdose epidemic spreads, strains Springfield first responders

“The devastation that happens to the family network is significant and tremendous and it has shaken my world to the core,” Weidle said.

The recent double-overdose fatality in Centerville of a mother and father who were discovered by their children prompted Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who previously represented Centerville in the Ohio Senate, to join the effort to find answers to the drug problem.

“We are losing eight people a day and most of them started with prescription opiates. It is not just those people we are losing. It is also the children. Almost two children per 100 are being born addicted, going through withdrawal symptoms in their first week of life,” Husted said.

Under the bill, medical professionals would receive more training about prescribing powerful opioids. Tim Maglione, spokesman for the Ohio State Medical Association, said a dozen other regulations have already been put in place that doctors are already following on this issue.

EARLIER COVERAGE: Clark Co. hospital, EMS resources stretched as overdoses spike again

“In the last four years the number of opioid prescriptions has gone down by 162 million doses, which is about 20 percent,” Maglione said. “We are on a good path now. This legislation will continue to generate discussion about how much faster we can reduce the overall supply and we look forward to having that conversation with the legislature.”

The effort to control prescription medications has also drawn the attention of Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Kasich is set to announce his own plan Thursday at a Statehouse news conference, joined by representatives of several state medical regulatory boards. Those boards, appointed by the governor, could adopt additional regulations on their own with approval from a legislative oversight panel, and without going to the full legislature for passage of a new law.

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