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State law now requires more opioid training for licensed health care practitioners

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH)- Doctors across Indiana who prescribe opioids are now required to have more training.

The move comes after a new state law recently took effect.

There is an opioid epidemic in the United States today.

“Indiana, unfortunately, is not immune to that crisis,” Stacie Wenk, President of the Indiana State Medical Association explained. “We have a large number of opiate overdoses and opiate deaths.”

That statistic is why a state law took effect July 1, that requires anyone applying for or renewing their license to prescribe controlled substances, including opioids, to take two hours of continuing education every two years.

“We want people to be aware of alternatives to opioids. We want them to be aware of the latest science and studies that continue to come out showing what may be necessary,” State Senator Randy Head, a Republican from Logansport explained Thursday. “For instance, for pain relief or other ways to get pain relief. Amounts of drugs that are dangerous so doctors and prescribers are aware.”

State Sen. Head created the bill, which was recently signed into law.

“We wanted to give people time to develop curriculum for the courses,” Head explained Thursday.

There’s an app the Indiana State Medical Association created to make that required training more convenient.

It’s called ISMA Online, and the association received a $230,000 grant from the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation to develop and launch it.

Inside the app are archived webinars, video courses and an eight-episode podcast all on opioid prescribing and abuse.

“One of the podcasts talks about patients who show up in the emergency room from an overdose and getting them started on treatments immediately rather than trying to get them referred,” Wenk explained.

“I think we’ll see good results across the state from it,” Head said Thursday.

Wenk said over the last five years, Indiana’s written opiate prescriptions have dropped 35%. That outpaces the national average of 33%.

Wenk feels the new app will help save lives.

“To be able to learn, to be able to refresh memory, to be able to take this information to our patients who look to us, who trust us as physicians to help guide them through this crisis.” Wenk explained.

The app is free. You can download it now in the app store on your device.