Indiana, along with the rest of the nation, continues to see more and more residents develop an addiction to opioids, devastating individuals, families and entire communities. In 2016, more Americans died from drug overdoses than the total number of Americans killed in the Vietnam War. About two-thirds of those fatal overdoses involved opioids.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioids include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids like fentanyl, and pain relievers available by prescription. In 2016, there were 296 heroin-related deaths and 488 opioid pain reliever-related deaths reported in Indiana.

Additionally, Indiana University’s Indiana Business Research Center estimates that opioid abuse costs Indiana’s economy $1.5 billion per year in lost economic input.

While a number of Indiana residents are truly in need of a prescribed opioid to treat health issues, many people underestimate the addictive qualities of opioid treatment. Additionally, in some cases, prescriptions that are not always medically necessary are prescribed, which are enabling the spread of addiction.

According to INSPECT, Indiana’s prescription drug monitoring program, more than 333 million opioid-related pills were prescribed to Indiana residents in 2018.

Below are the total number of pills prescribed to those living in Senate District 42 in 2018:

Decatur: 1,052,094

Fayette: 1,698,376

Franklin: 617,149

Henry: 3,240,109

Ripley: 1,752,889

Rush: 640,316

Shelby: 1,764,298

To help address opioid addiction, I authored Senate Bill 133, which would require a pharmacist who dispenses prescription drugs that contain or are derived from opium to list on the label that the drug is an opioid.

SB 133 would help improve consumer awareness and prevent people from unintentionally developing a drug addiction. I am hopeful this measure, if passed, would help combat the opioid epidemic by informing users that the substance they are prescribed may create an unwanted addiction.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns regarding this issue or others, contact me by email at Senator.Leising@iga.in.gov or by phone at 800-382-9467.