Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

November 5, 2013

MAUREEN HAYDEN: Medical Licensing Board attempts to cap 'pill mills'

State agency gets more authority from GOP lawmakers.

In January, on his first day in office, Gov. Mike Pence called for a moratorium on state regulations, saying fewer government rules would help spur job creation across the Hoosier State.

State Sen. Ron Grooms, a conservative Republican from Jeffersonville, applauded the general notion of “less government intrusion” but decided the health of Hoosiers trumped ideology. During the 2013 session, he authored legislation to impose sweeping new regulations on providers of prescription painkillers.

His intent: To turn back the wave of misuse, abuse and addiction associated with the most frequently prescribed drugs in the U.S.

How did Grooms come to that decision? Through his personal experience as a pharmacist in Floyd County, where he’d witnessed the rise of suspicious pain management clinics, better known as “pill mills.”

In a recent interview, Grooms recalled how he could track the rise in prescriptions for drugs containing hydrocodone — the chemical derivative of opium — just by tracking his orders.

In the early 1990s, as those drugs were hitting the market, Grooms needed only one bottle of 100 pills each week to fill the hydrocodone prescriptions that came into his pharmacy. By the mid-1990s, he needed to buy one bottle of 500 pills a week to keep up with the demand. By 2006, when he retired, he was ordering 20 bottles of 500 pills each week.

What he saw in his drug store was happening across the nation. The number of prescriptions for hydrocodone medications like Lortab, Vicodin and their generic equivalents — all marketed as safe, cheap and effective — was skyrocketing. In 2011, according to federal government estimates, about 131 million prescriptions for hydrocodone medications were written for about 47 million patients. That comes out to about 5 billion pills.

“We’d become a society where everything is supposed to be easy and uncomplicated,” Grooms said. And pain treatment was no different: “Treating pain is uncomplicated. You just write a prescription.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • Cleaning up Indiana could be as easy as a bottle deposit Scan the roadside on a drive through the Wabash Valley, and you might spot an empty pop bottle or two. Or two dozen. Or 200. Drink bottles have become our litter du jour. They compose an estimated 40 to 60 percent of all litter, according to the Mich

    April 21, 2014

  • Wolfsie: High-tech got you down? I love where I bank. It’s a branch inside of a big supermarket. I can make a modest withdrawal and then go and blow every last penny in the cookie aisle. The tellers at the window appreciate me. They know about my obsession with round numbers and und

    April 21, 2014

  • Vasicek: Celebrating Easter I have shared a few bits of Easter humor over the years, so I thought I’d start with a new one. Joseph of Arimathea was the wealthy Pharisee who is famous for helping to bury the body of Jesus. He procured the body, asking Pilate’s permission, and, w

    April 20, 2014

  • DAY: God trusted us with them Well, you heard about my wife and I, and our families from the past, so it is time for me to tell you about two of the prettiest girls I have ever known. They are our daughters Debbie and Patty. They are the greatest gifts from God that we have had i

    April 19, 2014

  • LoBianco: Bigger ethics questions raised in House Turner review

    Members of the House Ethics Committee who will take up Rep. Eric Turner’s case face daunting tasks as they try to answer two questions: Did their powerful colleague violate any ethics rules in privately lobbying against a measure that would have hurt his family’s business?

    April 18, 2014

  • Hicks: Measuring the unmeasurable

    One aspect of economic research I think is especially powerful is the ability to measure or monetize the things that humans clearly value but for which a market price is not necessarily apparent. This is one of the aspects of economic analysis that gives it such dominance over other social sciences.

    April 17, 2014

  • Rob Burgess House of Burgess: Bush presents 'The Art of Leadership'

    On April 5, “The Art of Leadership: A President’s Personal Diplomacy,” opened at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University. The display, which runs through June 3, boasts “portraits of more than two dozen world leaders” painted by Bush, according to the official literature.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bohanon: ‘Economics is fun’ in Vegas or in Bible study

    I am writing this on an airplane to Las Vegas. I’ll be attending the annual conference of the Association of Private Enterprise Education along with two of my colleagues and six of my students.

    April 16, 2014

  • Hayden: Want better teacher ratings? Ask the kids

    The state may be back where it started, encumbered with a flawed teacher grading system, a year after implementing what were meant to be tough new standards.
    That was the general consensus of the State Board of Education days after teacher evaluation data were released last week.

    April 15, 2014

  • BRIAN HOWEY: Mike Pence for president in 2016? Stay tuned Mike Pence for president? The swirl of 2016 national ticket talk surrounding Gov. Pence intensified over the past few weeks. I sat down with the governor in his office on Tuesday to find out what he's really thinking. A few hours prior, the Weekly S

    April 14, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll
Kelly Lafferty's video on Tom Miller