The task force has already pushed for a series of legislative measures aimed at curbing prescription drug abuse in Indiana, including new emergency rules that go into effect Nov. 1 requiring doctors to do much closer monitoring of their pain-medication patients.
The task force plans to push for more legislative remedies in the next session. Among them: requiring all health providers to report cases of neonatal abstinence syndrome to the state health department; and regulating the popular prescription pain-killer,Tramadol, as a schedule IV drug, which would increase the criminal penalties for abusing it or diverting it for someone else’s use.
One measure the task force is still considering: A law like the one passed recently in Tennessee that would give pregnant women some incentives to confess their drug addiction to their doctor and get into drug treatment programs. The Tennessee law, called the Safe Harbor Act, moves a pregnant woman to the front of the line for available spots in drug treatment programs, and guarantees her newborn won’t be taken away by the Department of Children’s Services solely because of the drug use, as long as the woman continues in treatment and the baby is well-cared for.
“We want to encourage these women to do the right thing,” Robinson said. She said drug-abusing pregnant mothers too often avoid getting prenatal care because they fear criminal prosecution and having their infants taken away from them.
The Tennessee legislation was supported by the state medical association, which made prescription drug abuse a priority among its public health issues. The Tennessee law sets out a series of conditions that the pregnant woman must meet in reporting her drug abuse to her doctor and following up with treatment. It doesn’t prevent the state from filing an action to remove the child from the custody of the mother or other caregiver it’s determined the baby isn’t properly cared for by the mother or caregiver.