Senator Eklund (left) joins state lawmakers and health officials as Governor Kasich signs legislation aimed at curbing Ohio's opioid abuse epidemic.

COLUMBUS - On Wednesday, State Senator John Eklund (R-Munson Township) joined Governor John Kasich as he signed legislation which makes new reforms aimed at tackling Ohio's opiate addiction epidemic by enhancing oversight and addressing the issue of over-prescribing. 

“There is no one silver bullet that will end Ohio's drug addiction crisis but this legislation takes important steps to prevent these addictive substances from falling into the wrong hands in the first place," said Eklund. "Along with efforts to enhance drug prevention education programs in our classrooms, these reforms will play an important role in helping to address the drug problem before it rears its ugly head."

Senate Bill 319 includes provisions to ensure responsible opiate treatment for Ohioans struggling with addiction. The legislation requires that addiction treatment facilities treating 30 or more individuals with Suboxone be licensed by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy. The licensure requirement seeks to increase accountability and prevent the misuse of Suboxone, which can be part of an effective treatment plan to deter opiate dependence.

The legislation also addresses access to methadone clinics where medication-assisted treatment is made available in a highly regulated environment. Eklund's bill maintains the high level of accountability while waiving legal requirements limiting addiction treatment professionals from opening new clinics. 

Provisions in the bill require pharmacy technicians to register with the Board of Pharmacy. Since 2013, more than one-third of all drug theft cases investigated by the Pharmacy Board involved pharmacy technicians. Mandatory pharmacy technician registration ensures uniform background checks establish consistent continuing education competencies. 

The legislation creates new oversight for purchasing and distributing controlled substances and closes loopholes by requiring all healthcare providers who store, administer and dispense controlled substances from their facilities to obtain licensure from the Pharmacy Board. Added oversight will help to provide safeguards to prevent theft or misuse of highly addictive substances.

"By plugging the leaks in the system, we can significantly reduce the illicit supply of opiates," added Eklund.

Senator Eklund's legislation also restricts high-volume prescriptions in an effort to prevent medication misuse. Current law provides no limitation on the amount of opiate pills that may be dispensed through a single prescription. New reforms limit most dispensing to a 90-day supply for any opiate prescription that a patient may receive. Additionally, the legislation would invalidate any opiate prescription not used within 14 days. These reforms seek to limit the availability of unused opioids, which often fall into the wrong hands. 

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