By BRADEN LAMMERS
INDIANAPOLIS — As Indiana’s state legislative session gets under way, Sen. Ron Grooms, R-Jeffersonville, is looking to strengthen laws regulating prescription drugs.
A pain management clinic that relocated to Jeffersonville in July helped prompt the legislation. Clark County Wellness LLC opened in Jeffersonville in the summer after Kentucky strengthened its laws regulating pain management clinics.
At the time the pain management clinic opened, Grooms offered that it was his desire to the Indiana adopt laws similar to those enacted in Kentucky and develop an electronic file-sharing system between border states to prevent prescription abusers.
“In an effort to address this alarming trend and curb the cycle of drug addiction, I have introduced Senate Bill 246,” Grooms said in a press release Monday. “This bill would regulate prescribing practices to help prevent the dangerous over-prescription of these drugs. It is my hope and intention that this bill will strengthen our state’s accountability concerning prescription medication, keeping it in the hands of those who need it, and away from those who don’t.”
Among the restrictions offered in the first draft of the bill are that the clinic: Be owned by a physician licensed under Indiana code; provide each patient of the clinic with an individualized medical plan that treats the patient and avoids long-term pain medication addiction; have a licensed physician physically present at the clinic at all times that the controlled drug clinic is open; and before a controlled substance is prescribed for a patient, use Indiana’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program — INSPECT — to ensure there is not a duplication of prescriptions.
Grooms, who is a retired pharmacist, said in the release, “I’ve seen first-hand the destruction and devastation prescription drug abuse can cause. While these medications provide much needed relief for certain medical conditions, they pose serious health risks when used improperly or unnecessarily. Indiana is one of the few states that [does] not currently have laws monitoring prescribing practices for addictive pain medication, and this lack of oversight has resulted in an alarming rise of pain clinics, which feeds people’s drug habits instead of treating actual medical conditions.”
Last month, the former owner of the Jeffersonville pain clinic was indicted for prescription drug and money laundering conspiracies in Kentucky. The indictment came after the City of Jeffersonville served a notice that the clinic must shut down after the license of Dr. Lea Marlow, who worked at the Clark County Wellness Center, was suspended by the Indiana Medical Licensing Board.
According to a release from the Indiana Attorney General’s office, Marlow prescribed more than 8,000 prescriptions for 3,489 patients, with more than 95 percent receiving oxycodone. Virtually all of Marlow’s patients received identical treatment in the form of oxycodone and diazepam prescriptions and the business operated as “cash-only.”