I think we’re gonna have to attack this problem from all angles.Senator Jean Leising, (R) 42nd District
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — As Hoosiers continue to abuse opioid prescriptions, with sometimes fatal results, prescribers continue to regularly prescribe the addictive drugs.
Over five million opioid prescriptions and 333 million opioid pills were prescribed in Indiana in 2018, according to INSPECT data.
WTWO looked into the number of opioid prescriptions in 2018 in our local Indiana counties and found the following information from INSPECT:
- Clay County – 18,608 prescriptions – 69% of population
- Greene County – 23,541 prescriptions – 71% of population
- Knox County – 44,212 prescriptions – 115% of population
- Parke County – 6,339 prescriptions – 36% of population
- Sullivan County – 11,945 prescriptions – 55% of population
- Vermillion County – 11,264 prescriptions – 69% of population
- Vigo County – 81,190 prescriptions – 75% of population
“It’s easy to get patients, when you have a busy schedule, in and out of the office to treat their symptoms with this medication that is very effective in treating symptoms in the short course,” said Union Health Pain Management Center Director Dr. Thomas Pendergast.
One demographic that is susceptible to these multiple prescriptions is the elderly. Nearly one in six opioid-related overdose deaths in Indiana in 2017 were in Hoosiers 55 years and older.
“Elderly often times are on lots of medicines; there’s very little chance for them to understand all of what there is to know about all of those medications,” said Dr. Pendergast.
It’s not like an antibiotic – you don’t have to take all of the pills until it’s gone.Senator Jean Leising, (R) 42nd District
State Senator Jean Leising learned from a committee member about the prevalence of opioid addiction in senior citizens.
“She said ‘I really think that a lot of these seniors don’t understand the difference between opioids and other pain relief medications’, and so I said ‘what’s the solution?’ and she said ‘well, maybe something as simple as something on the label of the prescription bottles’,” said Leising.
Leising then authored Senate Bill 133, which was passed into law in the spring, and requires prescribers to label a prescription clearly as an opioid rather than burying that information in a handout.
“When you get a prescription now of any sort, you get that big printout that tells you all about the medication, but most of the time when people get that, they don’t read it from top to bottom, right?” said Leising.
Leising is hoping this simple change will warn patients of the highly addictive nature of opioids and keep them from taking too many pills.
“It’s not like an antibiotic, you don’t have to take all the pills until it’s gone,” said Leising.
And Leising says this law is designed to help any patient, not just senior citizens.
“Whether it’s a teenager that has a sports injury or a super senior that’s had back and hip surgeries, I’m all about trying to keep them away from any kind of addiction,” said Leising.
Leising says this is just one step in several that need to be taken to curb the opioid crisis in Indiana.