While serving as chairman of the House Prescription Drug Abuse and Healthcare Reform Study Committee, our committee held regional hearings around the state and carefully listened to the testimony of more than 80 witnesses in order to find ways of preventing Ohio’s prescription drug abuse problems.

In 2011, more than 1,700 Ohio residents died because of unintentional drug overdoses—the equivalent of five Ohioans dying each day. Although the House has done quite a bit to combat this problem, including curbing the ability of prescribers to dole out excessive quantities of drugs, the problem remains. We must do more to stop this epidemic and keep Ohioans healthy.

While learning more about the underlying reasons why people become addicted to prescription painkillers, the members of our committee heard from experts, law enforcement officials, judges, and those who have been addicted or have a family member who struggles with addiction. The hope is that we can use what we learned to adopt legislation and save lives.

Just recently, Rep. Nan Baker of Westlake, a member of the study committee, sponsored House Bill 314. This legislation requires a prescriber to receive a signed form of consent from a parent or guardian of a minor before issuing a prescription for the minor to have a controlled substance. The form would be separate from other documents, would include the number of refills, and be included in the person’s medical record.

This particular issue came to our attention when a mother and daughter shared their own experience with drug addiction after the daughter received numerous prescriptions for highly addictive painkillers without the mother being made aware of it. Eventually, the daughter began to use heroin. The mother had no idea that the problem existed until her daughter overdosed.

A situation like this should not be possible, and I’m grateful that legislation has been introduced that will help to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

Although there are many reasons why someone might become addicted to prescription painkillers and other drugs, we must do everything we can to stop the problem before it starts. I’m grateful for the numerous witnesses who testified before the Prescription Drug Abuse and Healthcare Reform Committee. Because of their efforts, I firmly believe that we can enact legislation that will save countless lives in the future.

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