“Four-thousand more people in the state of Ohio will be able to write prescriptions for controlled substances,” Johnson, a candidate for the Ohio House of Representatives, 89th District, said.
Johnson was referencing the recently approved House Bill 206.
“Prescription drug abuse has been destroying lives in southern Ohio for too long,” Johnson said. “H.B. 206 gives almost 4,000 new people the ability to prescribe these drugs. This is the absolute wrong time to do this. While I have tremendous respect for Advanced Practice Nurses and value them as colleagues, the reality is that we have enough trouble trying to keep an eye on all the prescribers we have now. If we start giving more people the power to hand out these drugs, this problem could go from bad to worse.”
Johnson cited a letter sent from Jon F. Wills, executive director of the Ohio Osteopathic Association, to the House prior to passage of the bill.
In that letter, Wills wrote that schedule 2 drugs have the highest potential for diversion, criminal activity, overdose, injury and death. He also cited the drug problem in Ohio as to why the legislation should not pass.
“I see it as a disconnect between a special interest group trying to get something for a group of people, and I understand that. I’m not against Advanced Practice Nurses at all,” Johnson said. “But there’s a disconnect between that and what is happening in southern Ohio.”
Johnson said he talked with one of the people pushing the bill for one of the legislators, who, “tore into me like a buzzsaw.” Johnson said he replied, “Ma’m you don’t know what’s going on in southern Ohio. We had 23 people here dead last year, and that’s the tip of the iceberg because of this problem. And now what we’re going to do is throw kerosene on the fire by allowing more people to prescribe these things.
“So while the Governor’s Task Force is moving this stuff to help us out, the Legislature is passing a law to make it easier for more people to put this stuff on the streets,” Johnson said. “They didn’t consult the task force about this, so it is at odds with what we are trying to accomplish.”
Johnson said he believes with his background he would have been able to come against the bill had he been in the House at the time the legislation came up.
“Right now, there aren’t any physicians in the statehouse, and this issue underscores why it is so important to change that,” Johnson said. “I’m sure our lawmakers had the best of intentions with this bill, but unfortunately they just don’t understand how their decisions are affecting southern Ohio.”
Johnson is involved in the Scioto County Prescription Drug Action Team, which has been working with Gov. Ted Strickland to clamp down on the dispensing of prescription drugs.
According to the Ohio Association of Advanced Practice Nurses, who supports the bill, a number of safeguards for Schedule 2 prescribing in Ohio will be maintained in the bill including:
• APNs are not permitted to dispense controlled medications.
• Only written prescriptions for Schedule 2 medications are accepted.
• Refills are not permitted on Schedule 2 medications.
• All prescriptions for Schedule 2 medications are tracked by prescriber and patient by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy’s OARRS program, which helps reduce the risk of abuse of medications.
FRANK LEWIS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232 or firstname.lastname@example.org