Public officials praised State Rep. Jay Edwards, R-Nelsonville, at a meeting on Friday morning for his new bill, which is designed to combat and treat Ohio’s opioid epidemic.
At the meeting, Edwards said the bill, House Bill 167, aims to limit the amount of time opioids could be prescribed. The bill limits opioid prescriptions to seven days or less. The bill also requires doctors to provide treatment programs if they have to give opioids for more than seven days.
Edwards said the treatment section of the bill is what makes it unique, since Southeast Ohio doesn’t have many treatment facilities.
“We have access problems in Southeast Ohio to treatment facilities,” Edwards said. “I don’t think throwing money at it and simply legislating will fix the issue.”
The bill is also known as “Daniel’s Law” for Daniel Weidle, a father of three, who died in 2015 after repeatedly being denied treatment for his addiction. Weidle’s father, Scott Weidle, spoke in favor of the bill at the meeting.
“Hopefully this will save many other families from living this nightmare,” Scott Weidle said.
Scott Weidle, who began his activism at the Ohio Statehouse on the same day Edwards was sworn in, said he reached out to Edwards to sponsor the bill.
“He is a leader, and he will also fight the good fight, as my son did,” Scott Weidle said.
Public officials at the meeting applauded the bill. George McCarthy, judge of the Athens Common Pleas Court, said the bill was a step in the right direction.
“We appreciate the efforts of Jay,” McCarthy said. “It certainly is an important first step.”
Joe Gay, director of Health Recovery Services in Athens, praised the bill but added it would be met with resistance from the pharmaceutical industry.
“This is very, very important legislation,” Gay said. “It has been severely resisted by the pharmaceutical industry and physicians. “
Edwards said the bill isn’t anti-doctor, but rather was meant to keep overprescribing in check.
“This will get a lot of push back from pharmaceutical companies and physicians,” Edwards said. “This is not an attack on physicians.”
Edwards held a press conference on Wednesday to introduce the bill, which he said he had been working on since he campaigned, according to a previous Post report.
According to a report by the State of Ohio’s Board of Pharmacy, the total number of opioid prescriptions given to Ohio patients decreased by 2.5 million, or 20 percent, between 2012 and 2016.
The report attributes part of that to Ohio’s prescription monitoring program, the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System, or OARRS. OARRS was created in 2006 to monitor prescription drug abuse.
Edwards’ bill represents only part of a statewide campaign against opioid addiction. Senate Bill 319, which limits the amount of opioids that could be prescribed and makes addiction treatment more accessible, was signed into law earlier this year and will take effect April 6.