Kudos to Ohio agency working to stop opioid addiction

Appalachian Ohio and the Mid-Ohio Valley have seen a toll taken by the substance abuse epidemic of the last several years from which it may be nearly impossible to recover. Nearly everyone has been affected in some way. And for years now we have understood one of the sparks for that epidemic was the increased prescription of opioid pain pills such as Oxycontin.

We know now that ruthless and greedy corporations, and their accomplices — the doctors and pharmacists who served as their dealers — got people who were hurting hooked on a killer they could not control.

We also know those “legal” dealers and their suppliers may have had some help at the federal level from bureaucrats who turned a blind eye to them poisoning an entire region. It took far too long for those in Washington, D.C., to wake up to what was happening here, and changes now are being made.

Better late than never.

But closer to home, much more drastic change has been needed; and even as the epidemic has evolved, Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation officials feel it necessary to no longer pay for Oxycontin for newly injured workers and not to cover the drug’s cost for those currently receiving benefits starting next year.

That might come as a shock to some patients who have a real need for effective, continued pain relief. According to Workers’ Compensation Administrator and CEO Stephanie McCloud, the agency is asking workers to seek other effective drugs and non-medication options for chronic pain treatment in discussions with their doctors. Some of those doctors will have some reprogramming to do, after years of passing along to their patients the pharmaceutical company line on a drug that has been in wide use in the U.S. only since 1996.

Surely most doctors in our region have gotten used to making such adjustments, anyway. But bravo to the Ohio officials for understanding it was well past time to do SOMETHING to make a dent in the problem.

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