Stricter regulations will now be levied on facilities in Ohio that provide prescription pain reliever medications, in an effort to curb so-called "pill mills."

Stricter regulations will now be levied on facilities in Ohio that provide prescription pain reliever medications, in an effort to curb so-called "pill mills."

Gov. John Kasich signed an executive order on June 20 putting into effect House Bill 93. Sponsored by Marysville pharmacist and state Rep. Dave Burke and Scioto County coroner Rep. Terry Johnson, the "pill mill" bill authorizes the State Medical Board of Ohio to create rules establishing standards and procedures for the operation of pain management clinics, the physicians providing care and the owners who supervise and direct the clinic.

The 90-day executive order will allow the state medical board to put the changes into action immediately. While Kasich signed the bill into law last month, the executive order allows the medical board to get to work while the rules continue to be processed through the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review.

Shawn Sech, who serves on the steering committee for the Union County Drug Free Youth Coalition, said prescription pain medication can serve as a gateway drug to other regularly-abused narcotics such as heroin.

"What we know about drug use is that the prescription pain killers are the gateway to the heavy-duty drugs," Sech said. "Yes, heroin is an issue in our community, but we know that to get to heroin, a lot are using prescription drugs to start. Is that the number one issue of drug abuse in Union County? No, alcohol is the number one abuse issue. But prescription drugs have been getting a raised focus."

Of the 1,373 overdose deaths recorded in Ohio in 2009, about 40 percent of those were the result of opiate-based pain killers, according to Kasich's executive order.

"What happens a lot of times with what we call pill mills, they'll bring in physicians, most of the time from out of state, and basically host them for a day or two," Sech said. "They see as many patients as possible, but then they also have a pharmacy on site so they're dispensing the pills there as well."

H.B. 93 provides for a live system of recording a patient's prescription, so that someone can't pick up their medicine at one store, and then cross the street and double-dip, Sech said. Another component limits the amount of medication that the prescribing physician can give to the patient.

"What that's doing is, say you just had oral surgery and are prescribed a 10-day supply of Vicodin, the dentist could only give you a three-day supply, and you'll have to go to a pharmacy to get the rest," Sech said. "It's trying to limit the amount of controlled substances that are on-site."

Sech said keeping a closer eye on how pain medication is distributed will ultimately benefit those who truly need the medication.

"Those drugs were created for a reason. We don't want to prevent those people who are really in chronic pain from having a place to go, so they're looking at the licensing of those physicians and at the field of pain management as a whole," Sech said. "Those people that need those medications can get them and use them in a way that was intended."