Authored by a Jeffersonville pharmacist, State Sen. Ron Grooms, the bill also creates a process which allows the Indiana Attorney General’s office to ask the state medical licensing board for permission to inspect medical records at pain clinics.
Currently, the only way for the AG’s office to access those records is to wait for law enforcement to serve a search warrant as part of a criminal investigation. Once law enforcement gets the records, then Zoeller’s office can subpoena them.
Checking clinic records whenever Indiana’s electronic pharmacy tracking system sends up a red flag would be one way to get ahead of the curve and act against overprescribing doctors sooner, Zoeller explained.
“When you’re just waiting for deaths to occur ... there should be something prior to that,” Zoeller said.
He’s selling the measure to doctors as a way to address the issue before seeking criminal prosecution.
“I don’t want to start off by accusing doctors of something that’s criminal, but if that’s what I’m left with, I’ll do what I have to do,” he said. “This bill doesn’t fix everything, but it does give more agencies awareness, and it sends the message that Indiana’s going to pursue this and enforce every law we can,” Grooms said.
The bill, SB246, requires every pain management clinic in Indiana be owned and operated by someone who holds a valid registration to prescribe controlled substances.
“The bill restricts a person from just going and renting office space along U.S. 31 in Kokomo, hanging up a sign that says ‘Pain Management Clinic’ and hiring a doctor from South Bend to come down two days a week and write prescriptions,” he said.
Many of the abuses can be tied to the prescribing practices at a small minority of clinics, Grooms added.