Rx Drug Task Force launches toolkit to help physicians navigate new prescribing rules


greg zoellerINDIANAPOLIS – Attorney General Greg Zoeller joined the Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force today to launch a toolkit designed to help the state’s physicians navigate new rules for prescribing addictive pain medication.

Zoeller made the announcement during the 4th Annual Prescription Drug Abuse Symposium in Indianapolis. Indiana’s Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force in partnership with the Indiana State Medical Association developed the toolkit titled, “First Do No Harm: The Indiana Healthcare Providers Guide to the Safe, Effective Management of Chronic Non-Terminal Pain.”

“This provider toolkit is based on expert opinion and recognized standards of care, with input from healthcare providers representing multiple specialties from all corners of the state,” Zoeller said. “It is our hope this new resource helps physicians understand and comply with the new prescribing rule recently adopted by the Medical Licensing Board. The new rule addresses the prescribing of pain medication for patients who have chronic, non-terminal pain in hopes of stemming the tides of addiction, doctor shopping and overprescribing.”

A recent study by Trust for America’s Health revealed the number of deaths caused by overdoses in Indiana has quadrupled since 1999.

This year, the Indiana General Assembly passed legislation which charged the Medical Licensing Board with developing new rules regarding prescribing controlled substances and strengthening the authority of the Attorney General’s office to inspect physician records in overprescribing cases. The two emergency rules stem in part from recommendations made by the task force.

Zoeller said the prescribing rule, adopted last week, aims to ensure patients are well informed about their prescriptions and physicians closely monitor patients to identify cases of misuse and abuse. Beginning Dec. 15, physicians will be required to monitor certain patient’s history via the state’s drug monitoring system called INSPECT which reveals what medications have been prescribed to a patient. Zoeller said this check can prevent someone from “doctor shopping” or obtaining multiple prescriptions for the same drug from different physicians.

“The provider toolkit is a comprehensive resource of best practices for treating chronic, non-terminal pain, including opioid prescribing, developed by medical providers for medical providers with a focus on functional improvement and the safe and effective use of pain medications as part of a treatment regimen, when necessary,” said Dr. Joan Duwve, Chief Medical Officer of the Indiana State Department of Health and co-chair of the task force. “The toolkit is meant to be a compendium to the newly adopted opioid prescribing rules effective Dec. 15, 2013.”

The toolkit provides physicians with options for the safe and responsible treatment of chronic pain, including prescriptions for opioids when indicated, with the ultimate goals of patient safety and functional improvement. Zoeller said the toolkit was developed under the leadership of Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Deborah McMahan, who also serves as the task force’s education committee chair.

“The toolkit was developed by a diverse group of physicians, nurses, pharmacists, academics and public health professionals from across the state,” McMahan said. “Our goal is to educate Indiana healthcare providers on why these state-of-the art recommendations for safe prescribing are important and how to easily implement them in everyday practice. To help with that effort, the toolkit provides resources, templates and even talking points for those difficult-to-start conversations with patients.”

The symposium titled, “Indiana’s Response to the Prescription Drug Epidemic,” allowed Indiana’s health professionals, law enforcement officials, legislators and other stakeholders to collaborate and share ideas on how to crack down on the state’s prescription drug abuse epidemic. Topics of the symposium also included diversion prevention and prosecution, the state’s prescription drug monitoring program, addiction treatment programs and neonatal abstinence syndrome.

Zoeller said the growing number of cases involving licensed health professionals caught diverting drugs, overprescribing or fraudulently writing prescriptions is one reason he created the Prescription Drug Abuse Taskforce in 2012. Zoeller chairs the task force which is made up of state legislators, law enforcement, health officials, pharmacists, state and local agencies and education providers.

Earlier this year, Zoeller and the task force launched a statewide public awareness campaign and a website, www.BitterPill.IN.gov, to serve as a one-stop-shop for consumers looking for information about prescription drug abuse and where to find help.