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Governor Pence announces new effort in combatting opioid abuse among veterans

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(March 9, 2016) – Governor Pence has announced a new initiative aimed at curbing opioid abuse by Hoosier veterans.

Veterans treated at VA hospitals will now be enrolled in the Indiana State Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (INSPECT). This will allow doctors to view patients’ controlled substance history and note red flags.

This will begin with a pilot program at the Roudebush Veterans Affairs medical facility in Indianapolis.

In December 2015, FOX59’s Charlie De Mar investigated the prescribing practices at the Marion Veteran Affairs Medical Center.  Soon after, new legislation was proposed to hold all VA facilities in Indiana accountable for their prescribing.

Rep. Jackie Walorski (IN-02), who introduced the bill in December, issued the following statement after the State of Indiana announced it had finalized plans:

 “Many men and women who are serving or have served in the United States military struggle with addiction. Today’s agreement between Roudebush and INSPECT is a welcomed step in the right direction. Increasing oversight and transparency over VA doctors is important step to combat the over prescription of powerful drugs to our nation’s bravest and finest.  However, we still need participation from all VA facilities to ensure gaps in the system don’t leave veterans vulnerable. That’s why I’ve introduced legislation, which recently passed the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, to addresses this problem by requiring all Department of Veterans Affairs facilities in Indiana and across the nation to participate in their respective state’s drug monitoring program.  I am committed to advancing legislation that assures our veterans the best healthcare possible.”

Additionally, U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly released the following statement following the announcement:

 “The new partnership between INSPECT and the VA is good news for Hoosier veterans and builds on our efforts to address the devastating opioid epidemic. I have been working to ensure the INSPECT program is as strong as possible for all Hoosiers, including our veterans. As I have said, it’s going to take all of us working together to combat this public health crisis—doctors, first responders, families, educators, pharmacists, the VA, and local, state and federal officials. I am committed to continuing to work on addressing the opioid epidemic for our veterans and all Hoosiers.”

Currently, each VAMC in Indiana may participate in INSPECT at their discretion, but are not required by law to do so. The statewide system requires other doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners to check patient records in INSPECT before prescribing painkillers, with pharmacists responsible for recording related prescriptions they fill.