Gov. John Kasich wants tougher rules for opioid drug distributors

February 1, 2018 GMT

Gov. John Kasich wants tougher rules for opioid drug distributors

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Gov. John Kasich wants to require wholesale prescription drug distributors to report suspicious orders of opiates to state officials in addition to reporting required by federal law.

The reporting requirements are the latest in a series of state regulations on prescription opiates intended to reduce abuse and overdose deaths.

“We’ve worked on the doctors, we have worked on the pharmacies and now we have to get on the distributors,” Kasich said during a Thursday news conference.

Ohio has more than 500 wholesale drug distributors that buy drugs from manufacturers and resell them to about 20,000 Ohio pharmacies, clinics and hospitals. Wholesalers are required to report “suspicious” quantities of drugs ordered to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.


Kasich and state pharmacy board officials are proposing more timely, electronic reports of such orders to better track the flow of addictive drugs into and throughout the state.

Distributors would have to report orders:

For more than 5,000 unit doses.For a disproportionate mix of controlled and non-controlled substance.From purchasers that do not take private or public insurance.That are unusually frequent or have an uncommon method of payment or delivery.

The propose rules would also require distributors to learn more about their customers, pause suspicious orders from being shipped and require signatures from two employees to release a paused order.

Kasich said he and state officials did not seek distributors’ input while crafting the proposed rules. Distributors and the public will have opportunities to weigh in on the proposed rules before they take effect in three to four months.

In 2016, 4,050 Ohioans died from a drug overdose. About 14 percent involved prescription opioids -- most were from fentanyl, a cheaper and more portent alternative.

Opioid prescriptions have declined for years as the Ohio ramped up reporting through the state’s controlled substances database, issued guidelines advising physicians to seek alternatives to opioids. Last year, the state enacted rules limiting opioid prescriptions for acute pain to seven day supplies.

Pharmacy Board Executive Director Steven Schierholt said despite the dip in prescription opioid deaths, about 80 percent of overdose victims had been prescribed an opioid at one time, according to the state controlled substances database.


Kasich acknowledged the greater proportion of deaths from fentanyl-laced street drugs and said state officials are limited in what they can do.

“If somebody wants to go down to the corner of Broad and High and buy some cocaine off the street and it’s laced with fentanyl, all I can do is say is don’t do it,” Kasich said.

Kasich repeated calls for Ohioans to personally get involved, again pitching the idea of giving anti-drug messages before basketball games and other sporting events.

“We can keep doing what we can do but I’m begging you to join this fight,” Kasich said.