New law aims to better track prescriptions

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There are changes coming to the way Indiana health care providers track prescriptions for pain.

A new law went into effect this week, impacting some of the most-used drugs in pain management, including vicodin, oxycontin and hydrocodone. Your family doctor, the licensed nurse practitioner or your OB/GYN will follow the same protocol when prescribing the drugs, or face penalties impacting their medical license.

The law covers larger amounts of drugs, like 60-plus pills, or the equivalent of 15 milligrams a day of hydrocodone for three months.

"Patients have to sign a consent, they are going to have to have a drug test before they start and a drug test yearly. We need to document and explore alternatives with them. There's an inspect report where I can get on and inspect, like if I give a patient a prescription, I can look and see if that patient's getting those from any other pharmacies in the state," said St. Vincent Health LPN Julie Schneiders. "I think the worry is, is that patients who really need pain medicine are going to feel like they're being treated like a drug seeker."

With the increasing oversight, look for some providers to choose to not write these prescriptions anymore and refer you to a pain specialist instead.

The regulations do not apply to terminal, nursing home, hospice and palliative care patients. The law is in response to a growing rate of drug overdoses in Indiana.

The state pharmacy board is also considering a plan to limit refills and require patients to see the doctor before getting more opioid medicines.