Gov. John Kasich this week signed another bill targeting Ohio’s opiate and heroin epidemic (Source: “Kasich signs bills to fight heroin epidemic,” Toledo Blade, Jan. 4, 2017).
In 2015, Ohio led the nation in opioid overdose deaths.
Senate Bill 319, sponsored by Sen. John Eklund, R-Chardon, expands access to the anti-overdose drug naloxone to entities such as homeless shelters, halfway houses, schools, and treatment centers that deal with populations at high risk of heroin overdose. It also offers civil immunity to law enforcement officers who carry and use naloxone.
The new law also closes an exemption in current law that allows sole proprietors in private practice — doctors, veterinarians, dentists, and other health care professionals—to directly distribute medications to patients without oversight from the Ohio Board of Pharmacy. Such professionals distributed 6.5 million doses, including 3 million doses of opiates, in 2015. The bill also ends Ohio’s status as one of eight states that do not require pharmacy technicians, who have been blamed for roughly a third of all drug theft cases over the last three years, to register with the state pharmacy board. The move subjects them to uniform criminal background checks and competency requirements.