Ohio doctors, dentists and some nurses will be unable to prescribe more than seven days of narcotic pain killers -- five days for minors -- under rule changes announced Thursday by Gov. John Kasich.
The prescribing restrictions, which will have the force of law, apply to acute pain patients. They are estimated to reduce the number addictive pain pills dispensed statewide by 109 million annually, and, more important, to save lives.
Medical personnel who don't follow the rules will be in danger of losing their license, Kasich said at a Statehouse news conference. The rules are not expected to take effect until this summer.
Kasich said tightening prescribing rules is part of Ohio's multi-faceted approach to fighting a deadly scourge of drug abuse, which took a record 3,050 lives through overdoses in 2015.
The new rules follow a series of restrictions on pain pills beginning in 2012. Overall, the previous restrictions cut down pills prescribed in Ohio by 20 percent, or 162 million doses, from 2012 to 2016.
Health experts say prescription opioids are most often the gateway to addiction, with three of four people who died from a drug overdone in 2015 previously having been prescribed an opioid pain pill, such as OxyContin. Many, especially young people, get their first narcotic pain pills from prescriptions unused by family and friends.